Football-sized device transform how Air Force collects data

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Unread post19 Nov 2022, 19:49

Football-sized device could transform how Air Force collects F-35 data
19 Nov 2022 Stephen Losey

"WASHINGTON — An Air Force test and evaluation squadron hopes a football-sized device mounted in an F-35 fighter′s weapons bay might revolutionize how it collects in-flight data on operational fighter jets.

Air Combat Command’s 59th Test and Evaluation Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada earlier this year started adding these devices, dubbed the Quick Reaction Instrumentation Package, or QRIP, to operational F-35s. Before that work began in March, QRIPs had been used in a dozen test F-35s across the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.

And in a Nov. 10 interview with Defense News, squadron commander Lt. Col. Nathan “Sheik” Malafa said he hopes to expand the use of these devices to more Air Force fighters — and perhaps even other aircraft across the fleet — allowing it to collect and “crowd-source” flight data much more cheaply than the service used to.

“QRIP is the end result of the gains of technology that we’re able to use to get everything smaller, more compact, and have a bigger impact,” Malafa said. The Air Force regularly collects flight data from its aircraft, that is then sent back to contractors so the companies can improve its software. At the end of the process, the upgraded software is pushed out to combat aircraft.

In the past, Malafa said, test F-35s recorded data with a 2,500-pound pod that took up an entire weapons bay and cost $25 million apiece. Sometimes data took weeks or months to access. That kind of a device was too cumbersome and expensive to even think of integrating into an operational aircraft, he said.

Advancements in technology and miniaturization of chips and other components made a much more compact system possible, he said....

...QRIP, an 8-pound device roughly the size of a football that is bolted inside the F-35′s weapons bay without taking up all the room or requiring any panels to be removed. It can record almost a terabyte of data per flight. The price tag for a single Curtiss-Wright Corporation-made QRIP: $230,000, a fraction of the old system’s cost.

The QRIP is wired to the F-35′s computers to collect vehicle system and mission system data — everything from altitude, power levels, performance and any potential malfunctions that engineers would have to sift through after a flight to figure out what problems may need to be fixed.

The squadron began installing QRIPs on test F-35s a little more than two years ago, Malafa said, and then began considering the possibility of adding them to operational fighters. The 59th has so far added QRIP to 19 operational Air Force F-35As, beginning in March 2022, and more are on the way. These F-35s are in a variety of locations, though Malafa would not specify where, and some have taken part in exercises outside of the continental U.S....

...The squadron is also working on a QRIP for F-16s and A-10s, he said. F-15s already collect enough data, he said, but might need a new system to manage the information. And Malafa said his squadron is looking at how to get these devices into MQ-9 Reapers and bombers such as the B-52 Stratofortress....

...The flight data QRIP collects will help improve the mission data files the F-35 uses to understand its environment and know what threats to search for, Malafa said. It will also allow the Air Force to find and fix bugs in the software, collect information that intelligence offices could use, and help maintainers find or predict where the F-35 needs to be fixed.

And if something goes wrong with a fighter down the line, the pool of data collected by QRIP over the years could help the Air Force go back and try to find early warning signs of the problem. Malafa said the Air Force wants to work with companies that provide artificial intelligence and machine learning technology to develop tool sets that could let it better use the data collected by QRIP.

“One of the things we’re looking at doing [with QRIP-collected data] is that predictive maintenance,” Malafa said. “If you can get ahead of the ballgame on that, that’s a game-changer.”"

F-35 QRIP Install.jpg
Airmen install a Quick Reaction Instrumentation Package (QRIP) device into an F-35A at Hill Air Force Base in Utah, March 23, 2022. This was the first operational F-35 to receive a QRIP device, which records flight data that could lead to faster software development, better re-programming and expedited products out to the pilots. (Todd Cromar/Air Force)

Source: https://www.defensenews.com/air/2022/11 ... f-35-data/
A4G Skyhawk: www.faaaa.asn.au/spazsinbad-a4g/ & youtube.com/channel/UCwqC_s6gcCVvG7NOge3qfAQ/videos
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Unread post22 Nov 2022, 10:29

New, Miniaturized Data Pod Will Accelerate Fighter Refinements, Fleet Maintenance
21 Nov 2022 John A. Tirpak

"...The squadron was unable to disclose which units the QRIP pod is equipping right now, but they are “scattered around the Air Force” and have delivered data from aircraft operating on deployments outside the continental U.S., a 59th spokesperson said. The device has also been tested with Marine Corps and Navy F-35s, suggesting it will have application to the entire F-35 fleet, including international users....

...The crowd-sourced data provided so far have “accelerated reprogramming changes, highlighted software deficiencies, enabled rapid debriefs, and provided data products previously unavailable to pilots and intelligence officers,” according to a 53rd Wing release.

“The more data we can collect from the Air Force’s diverse portfolio puts the ‘crowd’” in crowd-sourced data “and amplifies data sets we can use to gain competitive advantage against our adversaries and competitors,” said Malafa in the release.

“QRIP captures data that is currently not being recorded, or being discarded at the cutting room floor, and makes it available and accessible at the speed of relevance,” he said. “Big data analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence do the heavy lifting to sift through this data and highlight where action needs to be taken.” The data collected by the QRIPs has been demonstrated “to great effect by watching video from [outside CONUS] sorties minutes after the data is ingested, over 6,000 miles away,” said Malafa. “The implications of this are only limited by our imagination.”"

Source: https://www.airandspaceforces.com/new-m ... intenance/
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