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Mission Software Accomplished

photo - helicopter

Photo: South Carolina National Guard

When the U.S. Army updates defensive and offensive software on its UH60M Black Hawk and AH64D Apache Longbow helicopters, the improved systems must be fully tested to make sure they’re working properly. That includes evaluating how information is represented on the multifunction display (MFD) and multipurpose display (MPD), which use symbology to display threats.

Until recently, that testing required the use of a real helicopter or costly display components that had to be configured to operate in a laboratory environment. Thanks to an MFD/MPD emulator developed by the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) in collaboration with the Army Reprogramming Analysis Team (ARAT), the testing can now be done on ordinary laboratory computers anytime it’s needed. The new emulator can help get software updates to deployed Army Aviation forces faster.

“This is an exact replica of what’s on the helicopter, so when they’re testing the software upgrades in the laboratory, they see exactly what the pilot is going to see in the helicopter cockpit,” said William Miller, a GTRI principal research scientist who helped lead the project. “When the final software for the electronic warfare system is deployed to the field, it is already tested with the display. That saves money and time.”

The project began with observing the operation of a multifunction display in operational helicopters. Next, a development team led by GTRI Research Scientist Heyward Adams developed the emulator in a standard military Windows-based computer, using cards to simulate the sensors that would normally be providing data to the MFD.

The emulator is already in use by Army mission software developers in the ARAT laboratories. — John Toon

photo - Heyward Adams

Heyward Adams is a research scientist in the Georgia Tech Research Institute.

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