As reported by U.S. Naval Air System Command's website, the U.S. Navy recently completed a demonstration for its unmanned aircraft Common Control System (CCS) at Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division in China Lake, Calif. During the demonstration, operators used the CCS to control a simulated unmanned aircraft system (UAS) and associated sensors tasked by Special Operations Forces. The UAS identified and tracked a hostile moving target and sent images of the target to an air controller. The UAS data created a precise coordinate so that a Net-Enabled Weapon (NEW) could strike. The UAS and NEW controller were then used together to perform a battle damage assessment.
Led by the Program Executive Office for Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons, CCS is a software-only solution with instantiations for fixed, mobile and dismounted hardware configurations. It is intended to address common requirements for current and future unmanned aircraft systems.
During the demonstration, the U.S. Navy’s CCS used a sample of services developed under the Office of Secretary of Defense’s UAS Control Segment architecture. Multiple vendors developed these sample services and the user interface, which were successfully integrated to provide modular capabilities within one software system. Some of the services used were:
- Blue Force Tracker
- Cursor on Target
- Sensor Product Archive
- Sensor Command and Control
- Vehicle Flight Status
- Video Stream Catalog
- Meteorological and Oceanographic weather service.
Government-developed Standardization Agreement (STANAG) 4586 service and electro-optical/infrared sensor model services, as well as an independently developed industry presentation layer, were also used in the demonstration.
A major objective of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps is to make avionics and sensor systems lighter and smaller for the functionality required and to have a greater degree of component commonality with other, especially commercial, systems. The U.S. Department is moving away from federated avionics systems to distributed systems where common processor modules and shared apertures can be used with great cost and support advantage.
Researchers at the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command (NavAir), since a few years started surveying industry for companies able to design and build a common control station for all unmanned vehicles operating on the ground, at sea, and in the air. An official request for information was issued on September 2010 to learn more about industry research, technologies, and existing programs that could support several different unmanned systems.
“The demonstration verified that service-oriented techniques can help create a set of reusable, independently developed, software services for control of unmanned systems,” said Mike Paul, the Navy’s CCS program manager. “The flexibility of the CCS framework and the government led integration efforts allows the system to efficiently address similar requirements for unmanned vehicles, yet meet the unique requirements of each vehicle in a highly efficient manner.”
“The CCS approach leverages off of the investments and capabilities that exist today to smartly embrace a modular, scalable open architecture for unmanned systems,” said Rear Adm. Bill Shannon, PEO (U&W) program executive officer.
- UAS Control Segment Architecture (web link)