“Suite 9 Spiral 1 was [released] to address a critical [problem] found [during testing], [where] after [releasing munitions for multiple targets], a subsequent release of munitions could be inhibited by [an error] on the heads-up display [in the pilot’s helmet],” Col. Ryan Haden, 23d Fighter Group commander.
Most of us are familiar with turning a computer off and on again to reset an annoying problem, but what if you had to do that in the cockpit of an aircraft mid-flight?
As told by Airman 1st Class Hayden Legg, 23d Wing Public Affairs, in the article 23d AMXS Airmen update avionics, fighter aircraft integrated avionics specialists assigned to the 23d Aircraft Maintenance Squadron recently implemented an update to solve that problem and keep A-10C Thunderbolt II pilots free from distraction and focused on the mission.
“Suite 9 Spiral 1 was [released] to address a critical [problem] found [during testing], [where] after [releasing munitions for multiple targets], a subsequent release of munitions could be inhibited by [an error] on the heads-up display [in the pilot’s helmet],” said Col. Ryan Haden, 23d Fighter Group commander. “With multiple targets loaded into the system, Suite 9 allows us to simultaneously release multiple munitions for a simultaneous or near-simultaneous impact.
“[This is] an incredible capability that the fighter group trains with every day, and has definitely helped us to be even more effective and lethal in combat.”
Spirals, or updates, are released to the suite upgrade to fix bugs that won’t be found until after use in the field.
“In the case of Suite 9, one of the most significant capabilities we gained is an ability to quickly populate our system with multiple distinct desired mean points of impact for various targets,” Haden said.
To accomplish this, an operational flight program upgrade was made to the integrated flight and fire control computer, which is responsible for generating the information that is projected onto the head-up display. The head-up display shows flight information on the visor of the pilot’s helmet, allowing them to keep their eyes on the sky and off the instrument panel.
“[The process] to install the whole thing takes [about an hour per aircraft], more than you would think for a small update,” said Senior Airman Dane Richards, 23d Aircraft Maintenance Squadron fighter aircraft integrated avionics specialist. “Even though it’s just an integrated flight and fire control update, we have to first update the portable automated test station. To do that we have to wipe that computer clean, put all the operational flight programs on, including the new one, and then hook it up to the jet and push it through the data bus system.”
Photo credit: Airman 1st Class Hayden Legg / U.S. Air Force