VPX Processor used in Jet Fighter Infrared Tracking System

Recently, ADLINK supplied their VPX Blade Processor, model VPX3020, to a European manufacturer of IRST and FLIR Technologies for Jet Fighter Aeroplanes.

The Application

Modern Fighter Jets contain complex, cutting edge systems which operate in the most extreme conditions.  One critical system is infrared search and track (IRST) which uses infrared detection to find objects and potential targets in its range. A second infrared application is forward looking infrared (FLIR) which detects heat within a camera’s field of view and is transmitted to ground crew for further analysis. FLIR is used for night vision, target tracing, search and rescue and hyperspectral imaging. FLIR and IRST are open platform server based applications and technology is constantly changing and upgrading.  A European military integrator specialising in IRST and FLIR technologies approached ADLINK to assist in the technology selection and supply to enable the system integrator to build and deliver the next generation of infrared systems for Jet Fighter Customers.

The Challenges

In order to fulfil the requirement, the following challenges had to be surpassed:

Operate in Extreme Environments

Due to the varied conditions and environments that Military Aircraft are subjected to the system must be able to withstand sudden and dramatic changes in temperature, humidity and speed.  Therefore the platform must be designed for rugged use.

SWaP Constraint for High Performance

Size, Weight and Power are common design constraints when building systems destined to sit inside a fighter jet – this is due to the space constraints and multitudes of systems that use the same power source.  However, looking forward, maximising SWaP is important along with exceptional performance and solution reliability of the product being supplied

Meet Development Schedule and offer Superior Critical Support

The customer also required an agile partner that was able to build and customise a system platform in the shortest period of time.  Additionally, reliable technical support and expertise is critical as the system is destined for National Defence.

Offer Extended Life Cycle Program

IRST and FLIR Systems must be designed for extended durability as they are often deployed for long than usual lifecycles.  They need to be quickly and easily accessible for regular maintenance, updates or in case of repair.   It should be reliable as it is updatable.

The VPX Processor Solution

ADLINK’s answer to the European System Integrator’s Challenge was the ADLINK VPX3020 Series Rugged Processor Blade.  Designed for heavy application workloads, the VPX3020 is a 3U COTS blade server platform based on an Intel® Xeon® E-2254ML or 9th Gen Core ™ i3 processor, with soldered down DDR4-2666 ECC DRAM (up to 16 GB) and high speed serial fabric support for processor intensive task management.  The solution is designed to the VPX (VITA 46) ANSI Standard, which establishes a broad set of mechanical and electrical specifications for 3U/6U systems.  Adhering to VPX builds on a long legacy of embedded market design wins while supporting cutting edge switched fabric interconnects (such as PCI Express and 10 Gigabit Ethernet) for modern computing throughput demands.  The VPX3020 VPX Processor met all the system integrator’s challenges in the following ways:

Rugged and Reliable for Extreme Environments

The Military Grade ADLINK VPX3020 meets several MIL-STD Specifications and is ruggedised to operate in extreme conditions.  The System board is shock and vibration resistant.  Extra precautions were undertaken by ADLINK to ensure operations during rough flights.  Such as memory chips were soldered directly onto the board to eliminate any possibility of memory faults caused by shock and vibration during quick aerial manoeuvres.  The VPX3020 is designed to operate between -40°C and 85°C for conduction cooled system and up to 75°C for Air cooled system.

SWAP designed for Aircraft

Firstly, the 3U VPX3020 blade server was chosen.  This was because the physical size of the board fits into a shoe box sized chassis.  The low power, high performance Intel processors tackles the system cooling challenges imposed by extreme operating conditions without compromising performance.  The VPX3020’s SFF design focuses on the essential elements to make it stronger, more effective and purpose optimised.

Experience – Shortens specialised delivery

ADLINK’s extensive experience as an original design manufacturer (ODM) gives customers an advantage when customising systems for specific uses.  ADLINK’s dedicated engineering teams work with customers to enhance COTS products for specialised application needs.  By adapting pre-built solutions based on the globally accepted VPX standard, ADLINK can offer a modified commercial off the shelf version to expedite requests and changes to existing products.

Supply – Longevity

ADLINK has strategic partnerships with key component and software vendors.  Therefore, delivering supply longevity to support traditionally long lifecycle programs of critical industries.  With design centres, manufacturing facilities and business support branches in every major region worldwide.  ADLINK enables exceptional industry opportunities and global reach.  They also invest in sustaining legacy technologies to help customers undertake system upgrade and technology updates.

ADLINK recognises the importance of VPX form factor to the Aerospace and Defence Industry.  They are active member of VITA.  Committed to VPX Advancements and involved with industry bodies that drive VITA specifications.

For more information about the VPX Processor solution provided in this application, contact us.

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