Custom shipboard solution goes airborne

Whether it’s extreme altitudes, harsh climate conditions, lack of infrastructure, or any combination of challenging environmental factors, our customers need compute hardware that can do more than just survive—they need compute solutions to execute critical functions with seamless accuracy.

Typically, this requires customizing solutions to address very specific compute and SWaP parameters for a given platform or application. So, when one solution can be used across multiple platforms, like a server that can be deployed on an assault ship or a helicopter, it’s a big win—both operationally and financially—for the customer.

An international aerospace customer asked us to develop a rugged 1U system for a shipboard application that had to pass several environmental tests, including a barge test. The intended use for the system required two identical 1U units—each containing a specialized one-way communication component created by the customer—be cabled together.

Based on the customer’s requirements, we transformed their initial request into a solution that exceeded their needs. However, during our product development efforts, the team quickly realized that the commercial connectors needed for security classification took up too much space in the allotted footprint.

After talking with the customer to gain a deeper understanding of the necessary functionality and performance requirements, we proposed and developed a 2U solution that was more secure and much easier to maintain in a tactical environment. Yet in mitigating these challenges, others emerged, like airflow and I/O location, in addition to needing a 3.5” drive bay for the customer’s equipment.

The myriad of concerns were resolved by replacing the original, commercial connectors with military circular (MIL-CIRC) connectors in the 2U rack-mounted system. While not a program requirement, integrating the MIL-CIRC connectors proved to be an effective, holistic solution by:

  • Addressing critical design factors
  • Accommodating space constraints
  • Protecting against operating environment threats and disruptions
  • Providing secure data classification and transmission

Overall, the system redesign not only met the needs of the initial shipboard application, but extended its use to airborne applications. This has enabled our customer to expand the availability and use of a single solution across a variety of sea and air platforms at the tactical edge.