Defense

May 9, 2014

DDR design poised to serve as open systems architecture pathfinder

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Justin Oakes
Hanscom AFB, Mass.

Equipped with the Dismount Detection Radar pod, the Proteus aircraft takes off from the flightline at the Mojave Airport Civilian Flight Test Center in California April 22, 2014. The flight marked the first developmental test flight of the system. The DDR program office from Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., led the effort and plans to use the DDR as a model for other open system architecture radar designs.

 
Mounted on an experimental aircraft known as the Proteus, the Air Force’s Dismount Detection Radar pod underwent its first test flight above Mojave, Calif., recently.

“Not only were we able to test the system ahead of schedule, but within a couple of hours, we could see immediate results – in real time,” said 1st Lt. Matthew Cook, DDR integration and test team lead. “The radar performed just as we intended.”

However, one won’t find this system on any operational remotely piloted aircraft, or other intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms for that matter. Instead, the Air Force intends to use the DDR as a model for an open systems architecture radar design.

The Air Force Dismount Detection Radar pod is strapped to the underbelly of an experimental aircraft called the Proteus. The system underwent its first test flight April 22, 2014. An Air Force Life Cycle Management Center team based out of Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., is the driving force responsible for the development and testing of the radar.

Led by an Air Force Life Cycle Management Center program team based out of Hanscom, the goal is to demonstrate the ability of a third party developer to create software modes for an original equipment manufacturer radar.

“To have a third party contractor’s software run on another contractor’s product, that will be a big break through,” said Capt. Nicholas Castro, DDR deputy program manager.

According to program officials, the open systems architecture, or OSA, approach will allow for sustained component and software mode competition and affordable capability evolution across the radar’s life cycle. By embracing OSA, the service will enhance competition among other potential developers which will ultimately acquire improved and more affordable technologies.

Because the program will serve as a pathfinder, the program office will document business practices, requirement needs, technical and programmatic lessons learned and issues to mitigate risk on another program – the emerging Joint STARS Recapitalization effort.

The Dismount Detection Radar pod, mounted on the Proteus aircraft, undergoes its first developmental test flight in the airspace above Mojave, Calif., April 22, 2014. The DDR will serve as an open systems architecture radar model for other systems. Flight testing will continue this summer to verify the mode and gauge the performance characteristics of the radar.

Flight testing will continue this summer to verify the third party’s mode in the DDR pod and to gauge the performance characteristics of the radar.

In addition to the initial test results, the DDR team notes speed, cost savings and collaboration as indicators of success.

“Through a lot of hard work and combined effort, we were able to produce a new ground command and control station for the pod within three months,” Cook said. “Not only that, but the team accumulated a cost avoidance of $1.3 million, an estimated 25 percent below the contract proposal for the station.”

The Hanscom program office credited success of the development to the teamwork between the government, radar developer Raytheon and federally funded research centers MIT Lincoln Laboratory and MITRE.

“This represents a significant leap in radar capability, as well as OSA architecture and how we develop and acquire systems,” Castro said. “This technology will play a significant role in future development programs.”
 

A Dismount Detection Radar command and control station operates on the flightline at the Mojave Airport Civilian Flight Test Center April 22, 2014. The station was able to view feedback from the radar in real time during the system’s first developmental test flight. The DDR team, a Life Cycle Management Center program office, developed a new C2 station within three months for the radar.

 

The Proteus aircraft is prepped for the first developmental test flight of the Air Force’s Dismount Detection Radar pod April 22, 2014. Flight testing will continue this summer to determine the performance of the radar. The Air Force plans on using the DDR as a model for other open systems architecture radar designs.




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