The U.S Army is planning to demonstrate the avionics architecture proposed for its Future Vertical Lift (FVL) family of advanced rotorcraft.

The proof-of-concept demonstration in late 2014 with an initial, partial version of the Joint Common Architecture (JCA) is intended to show whether it delivers the software reusability required to meet targets for reduced costs and timescales for development and upgrades.

The avionics demo will feed into a larger mission-system demonstration planned under the Army’s Joint Multi Role (JMR) program, which is maturing technology for the first member of the proposed FVL family, a medium utility rotorcraft to enter development in the early 2020s.

Phase 1 of the JMR program covers air-vehicle demonstrators and is planned to fly in 2017. Phase 2, the mission-system demonstration, follows two year behind. The FVL Medium is intended to replace the Army’s Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawks beginning in the mid-2030s.

The Army has issued two requests for information related to JCA. They seek industry input to refine both the proof-of-concept demonstration and the overall architecture model ahead of the JMR Phase 2 demonstration.

JCA is a modular, open system architecture defining the avionics subsystems, software components and interfaces using industry standards, including the new Future Airborne Capability Environment (FACE) technical standard for software portability and reusability.

By using open industry standards, JCA is intended to increase the affordability and reduce the time to field avionics capabilities, including making it easier and quicker to insert new technology into in-service FVL aircraft to meet evolving mission requirements.

FVL is intended as a joint-service program, and the avionics will have to support missions including air assault, aerial reconnaissance, anti-submarine/anti-surface warfare, special operations, search-and-rescue, cargo, medical evacuation and command-and-control.

Under the JCA demo, the Army plans to acquire a data correlation and fusion manager — defined as a unit of portable software under FACE — to be integrated with multiple operating environments hosted on multiple general-purpose processors built to the FACE standard.

The Army plans to split $800,000 in funding for the demo between a minimum of two efforts, with contract award planned for March 2014 and testing for October-November. Results will feed into version 1.0 of the JCA, projected to be available at the end of fiscal 2015.

As it defines the avionics architecture to be demonstrated and validated during JMR Phase 2, the Army is seeking input on a number of questions, including whether JCA should be extended to include outer-loop flight controls (usually kept separate) and a ground control station to enable optionally piloted capability for the FVL Medium.

The Army plans to establish a government-industry JCA Working Group to mature the avionics architecture to support FVL, including conducting reusability assessments, and is seeking input on whether the existing FACE consortium could fulfill the role.