French Air Force Airbus A330 MRTT. Photo: Airbus
Earlier this summer, Airbus conducted the first test flight demonstration of the company's Network for the Sky (NFTS), which employs the company's aircraft links integration management system (ALIMS), based on Curtiss-Wright’s commercial BET processor system, including the DO-254 and DO-178C safety certifiable
processing and graphics modules and network switching and routing capabilities.
Airbus tested the NFTS aboard the A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft, 60 of which are on order or in the hands of 12 nations, including the United Kingdom, Norway, Australia, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Singapore, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates.
NFTS, which is to achieve full operational capability next year, integrates satellite and ground communications, air-to-ground, ground-to-air and air-to-air tactical links, 5G mobile communications, and laser connections in a secure, high-speed, interoperable, mesh network, which can include aircraft, UAVs, and helicopters that use networks with limited bandwidth and interoperability.
The MRTT demonstration this summer "simulated the establishment of multi-Mbit/s wideband communication links between the MRTT, ground forces operatives, a fighter jet, and a combined air operations center (CAOC) on the ground," according to Curtiss-Wright.
"For the demonstration an MRTT aircraft was equipped with Janus, Airbus’ new tri-band (Ku-Ka-MilKa) satellite antenna, the latest version of the Proteus satellite modem, which is highly resilient against interference and jamming" and Airbus’ ALIMS, the company said.
NFTS is part of Airbus' Future Air Power Project and is aligned with the European development of the Future Combat Air System.
Lynn Bamford, the senior vice president of Curtiss-Wright's defense and power division, said that ALIMS is "a rugged cost-effective size, weight and power-optimized processing solution based on our cost-effective COTS technology.”
Curtiss-Wright builds the ALIMS components at its facilities in Ottawa, Canada.