January 24, 1999 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Lockheed Martin recently received a new contract to develop the next major software upgrade for the new Modular Mission Computer (MMC) on F-16s belonging to the U.S. Air Force (USAF) and the four European Participating Air Forces (EPAF) -- Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway.
The software provides common capability with the following new systems: Link 16 data link, Joint Helmet-Mounted Cueing System and AIM-9X. EPAF
-unique additions will include a reconnaissance pod system, a missile approach warning system, electronic warfare management system updates, the IRIS-T and the U.S. family of smart weapons (Joint Direct Attack Munition, Joint Stand-Off Weapon, Wind-Corrected Munitions Dispenser).
The AIM-9X and IRIS-T are high-off- boresight air-to-air missiles being developed in the United States and Europe, respectively. USAF-unique additions will include a new weapon in development, the AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile. The block 40
and 50 aircraft will employ a common Operational Flight Program (OFP)
to support lean software development initiatives and accommodate unique Block 40 and block 50
equipment and operational missions. The common software will accommodate the USAF's Block 40 and 50 Common Configuration Implementation Program (CCIP
). As now planned, future software upgrades to these aircraft will continue the common OFP theme as initiated with the CCIP effort.
Additional enhancements are being considered for both the EPAF and USAF versions during the definition process that must meet cost-effectiveness criteria and fit within the program's budget allocations. The software update is identified as M3/M3+, with M3 designating the EPAF version and M3+ for the USAF version.
The M1 version was fielded earlier this year in EPAF F-16s as part of the F-16A/B Mid-Life Update program, which introduced the MMC
to these aircraft.
The M2 version, also for the EPAF, is in development and will be fielded in October of 2000. The corresponding M2+ version for the USAF will be delivered with the FY 97 buy of Block 50 F-16C/Ds in August of 2000. These will be the first USAF aircraft with the new computer. The M2+ software version will also be the initial baseline for the CCIP development program which starts flight testing in May 2001.
The initial effort in the M3/M3+ integration and software development program is valued at $8.3 million. The effort includes tasks such as configuration requirements definition, initial software development, long-lead material for ground test equipment, proposal preparation for the remainder of the integration and software development effort, and maintenance of a road map for the next major software update of the MMC-equipped F-16s.
The next major update is designated M4/M4+. The total cost for M3/M3+ software development is expected to be about $100 million. Companion hardware contracts to each software version provide for the physical integration of new systems and modification of aircraft.
William B. Anderson, vice president of the F-16/F-2 production business group at Lockheed Martin Tactical Aircraft Systems, said, "We expect the common software development approach will save approximately $35 million, or 35 percent, compared to conducting separate development efforts for the EPAF and USAF. Of course, other customers with F-16s incorporating the Modular Mission Computer could also benefit from the previous investment in the development and integration effort. This is another example of continuous upgrades to ensure the future viability and supportability of the F-16 fleet."
Col. Jeffrey Riemer, director of the F-16 Systems Program Office at Wright-Patterson AFB
, Ohio, said, "This commonality approach in software is another lean initiative that will provide robust and regular upgrades to the F-16 at an affordable price. Also, there should be interoperability benefits of having common or similar F-16 capabilities in allied/coalition operations."
Flight testing M3 version starts in March 2001, and M3+ flight testing starts in November of that year. Flight testing will be conducted at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. Both versions will go through several iterations during development and will be fielded in September 2003.
The M3+ software will support initial fielding of the USAF's Block 40/50 retrofit in the CCIP program. The M3/M3+ software upgrade program will affect the Modular Mission Computer (MMC) and two other core avionics processors. The MMC is the world's most advanced central computer on an operational fighter. This powerful processor is installed on block 20
versions currently being delivered and Block 50 versions that will deliver starting in the year 2000. The MMC is being retrofit on 360 EPAF F-16A/Bs and is planned for retrofit on almost 700 USAF Block 40/50 F-16C/Ds.
The MMC includes a 64-bit processor with 60 megabytes of memory and a throughput of 155 million operations per second; its growth capacity can be increased with additional modules to more than double this. The unit employs line replaceable modules and internal diagnostics that allow on-aircraft maintenance under a two-level maintenance concept. The MMC uses Ada software design, the DOD
's standard language for operational flight programs, and object-oriented analysis/design methodology. This modular software allows a high degree of commonality among various users and is much easier to create and upgrade compared to conventional software. The software in the MMC can be upgraded by electronically programming the MMC in about 35 minutes without removing the unit from the aircraft.