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Northrop Grumman Completes Update of Navy Group II E-2C Aircraft

Northrop Grumman Space Technology's solution was its Reconfigurable Processor for Legacy Avionics Code Execution (RePLACE) avionics upgrade technology and open-systems, commercial off-the-shelf hardware. By using RePLACE technology, Northrop Grumman achieved the program's objective at a fraction of the time and cost compared with alternatives.

San Diego CA (SPX) Aug 16, 2005
Northrop Grumman has successfully completed integration of its avionics technology upgrade with commercial hardware to update the fleet of Group II E-2C aircraft for the U.S. Navy.

Under contract with the Navy, Northrop Grumman's Space Technology sector was responsible for the E-2C Group II Mission Computer Replacement Program. The program's objective was to cost-effectively replace the E-2C airborne early warning aircraft's mission computer that has been in use since the late 1960s.

According to the Navy, the previous mission computer system had reached its maximum processing potential and memory capacity, which inhibited the ability to integrate modern, more advanced weapons systems.

Northrop Grumman Space Technology's solution was its Reconfigurable Processor for Legacy Avionics Code Execution (RePLACE) avionics upgrade technology and open-systems, commercial off-the-shelf hardware. By using RePLACE technology, Northrop Grumman achieved the program's objective at a fraction of the time and cost compared with alternatives.

RePLACE was developed by Northrop Grumman to solve the global problem of upgrading aging, slow and unreliable processors without incurring the huge expense of rewriting legacy software.

"Affordability in replacing the Group II E-2C mission computer with modern commercial computing hardware was important and we achieved that objective," said John Martin, team lead for the Group II Mission Computer Replacement Program.

"The bonus was getting the additional processor capacity for future upgrades and significantly reducing maintenance and training requirements. That's crucial to maintaining the tactical effectiveness of the Group II configured E-2s, which will be providing battlespace management for the fleet through 2017."

Northrop Grumman's avionics upgrade increased the Group II E-2C mission computer's mean time between failure to a predicated rate of more than 8,000 hours, reduced hardware weight from 700 pounds to 105 pounds, lowered heat dissipation from 1,700 watts to 80 watts and decreased central-processing-unit load time from more than 2.5 minutes to less than 30 seconds.

"The post deployment feedback from the squadrons has been very positive on this system," said Capt. Randy Mahr, program manager for E-2/C-2, Naval Air Systems Command.

"Upgrading the E-2C hardware and rewriting, revalidating and re-hosting the software could have easily taken many more years and hundreds of millions of dollars," said Terry Brim, director of Avionics Engineering Centers at Northrop Grumman Space Technology.

"Our RePLACE technology leverages the original investment made on existing software and lets the software run unchanged on state-of-the-art processors, thereby improving performance and reliability. The new processor capacity allows capabilities to be added and keeps the E-2C in pace with net-centric mission requirements."

RePLACE enables legacy software to run unmodified and at 20 to 100 times faster on state-of-the-art hardware. In addition, RePLACE supports modern software code, which allows advanced capabilities to be added in a managed and cost-effective manner.

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China Lake CA (SPX) Aug 16, 2005
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