Current and projected program requirements are exceeding Department of Defense (DoD) budget and schedule constraints. This applies to the Army’s requirements to integrate common avionics equipment onto dissimilar aircraft – both manned and unmanned. As such, innovative approaches and new acquisition business practices are needed to reduce platform integration costs and speed the fielding of important war-fighting capabilities. The Common Software Initiative (CSI) was formed by the US Army’s Product Manager of Aviation Mission Equipment (AME) to explore solutions to these problems.
In support of CSI, Tucson Embedded Systems (TES) developed and is applying automated testing capabilities and performing the verification of an AME Alt-Comms reusable software product. TES acts as a third-party platform integrator testing the product prior to it being released to the Platforms. The integrator’s environment and automated testing capability supports the development and test phases and promotes the evaluation of embedded control software across a fleet of multiple dissimilar platforms prior to formal release. TES has developed a cost-effective risk-reduced automated test environment to support the development and integration of reusable aviation software for the US Army Aviation Systems.
The planned goal is 100% reuse of automated testing software and testing artifacts, such that one piece of test software and accompanying artifacts may be certified once and reused across multiple platforms as described in the FAA Advisory Circular AC 20-148 . The reuse and automation will reduce costly and time-consuming platform System Integration Laboratories (SILs) testing and will support the formal qualification testing (FQT) efforts of the software. With automated reusable testing, TES and PM-AME estimates a reduction of more than 70% time and more than 50% cost of integration (potentially 57%) when compared to current business practices. This would allow the DoD to field two to six additional capability sets for the same budget as one.
While first applied and used to certify PM-AME’s reusable radio control software targeted for PM-Cargo’s CH-47F and PM-Kiowa Warrior OH-58, the reusable automated testing capability can be applied to all avionics capabilities including communications, navigational, sensors, actuators, etc.