Linux helps Navy keep high-tech weapon system updated

09/08/2006


General-purpose computing systems (in other words: personal computers and workstations) could be useful within a variety of control systems as human machine interface (HMI) platforms, network interface systems and even host computers, but many engineers hesitate to incorporate them because of the many stability and security issues surrounding the dominant PC operating system, Microsoft Windows XP. Linux provides an open-source alternative that avoids these Microsoft-related issues. As more engineers become acquainted with Linux, and Linux vendors make their implementations easier to use, PCs running Linux OS have begun to appear in many mission-critical applications.

For example, Real-Time Innovations (RTI) and Concurrent Computer Corp . have partnered to provide RTI's standards-based real-time data distribution middleware with Concurrent's RedHawk Linux in support of the U.S. Navy's Aegis Open Architecture program.

Able to simultaneously fight battles on several fronts (air, surface, subsurface, and strike), the AEGIS weapon system is the most capable surface launched missile system the Navy has ever put to sea. It is said to be capable of defeating an extremely wide range of targets from wave top to directly overhead. AEGIS is extremely useful against anti-ship cruise missiles and manned aircraft flying in all speed ranges from subsonic to supersonic.

The Navy conceived Aegis Open Architecture to be the foundation for modernizing Aegis-equipped cruisers and destroyers. The Navy expects open architecture to make it easier to incorporate software and hardware updates into its Aegis systems, enabling them to be maintained at the highest level of capability while employing low-cost, off-the-shelf technologies.

Concurrent's RedHawk Linux provides fast response to external events, optimized interprocess communication, and high I/O throughput needed for time-critical applications. The operating system has gained acceptance as a leading real-time Linux platform for high-performance applications, guaranteeing response on a dedicated processor to an external event in less than 30 microseconds.

RTI Data Distribution Service provides a rich publish/subscribe middleware environment that complies with the Object Management Group's (OMG's) Data Distribution Service for Real-Time Systems (DDS) standard. Update distribution with this service significantly reduces time required to implement communication within a distributed real-time system while providing a more scalable, maintainable and manageable infrastructure.

Charlie Masi , Control Engineering senior editor charlie.masi@reedbusiness.com