Mid Georgia
Software Associates, LLC
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The AC-130 gunship's primary missions are close air support, air interdiction and force protection. Missions in close air support are troops in contact, convoy escort and urban operations. Air interdiction missions are conducted against preplanned targets or targets of opportunity. Force protection missions include air base defense and facilities defense.

With over 20 years experience for the AC-130H Gunship, the MGSA knowledge dates back to the original Special Operations Forces Improvement program (SOFI) upgrade beginning in 1984.

When the SOFI program was defined, it was necessary to add an entirely new suite of Mil-Std-1553B hardware to the aircraft. Although the system was well defined, a flexible 1553B bus architecture was required to allow for potential and foreseeable hardware additions. In order to provide this flexibility a new 1553B communication protocol was defined. This protocol is unique to the AC-130H Gunship and provides for table driven communications which are easily modified for new hardware and data communication requirements. The MGSA General Manager defined, developed, and continues to support this communication protocol and architecture.

The AC-130H Gunship utilizes a dual Mil-Std-1750A Mission Computer (MC) for navigation and ballistic processing. New mission requirements and data processing are constantly being defined and with these requirements comes the necessary increase in processing capabilities and throughput. MGSA personnel designed and implemented that data communications and interrupt protocol between the dual-CPUs of the MC to make greater use of the secondary processor which was previously under utilized providing the additional processing power necessary to meet these increasing requirements.

MGSA personnel developed the capability to execute the AC-130H Gunship Control Display Unit (CDU) Operational Flight Software within a standard PC executing under a Windows operating system in real-time. This CDU execution provides a PC monitor display of the CDU faceplate (keypad and display) as well as providing a second video output for display within the training facility. Data communications are provided via Mil-Std-1553B and therefore this software and PC hardware can be installed in the lab or aircraft environment along with actual LRUs to provide a real-time debug and investigation / analysis capability.

MGSA personnel developed the capability to execute the AC-130H Gunship Mission Computer (MC) JOVIAL source code within a standard PC executing under a Windows operating system in real-time.   Like the CDU capability, this MC capability also provides real-time analysis and debug of the data input/output for the Mil-Std-1553B and other data signals.

The Gunship MC and CDU PC based capabilities provide debug and analysis functions for:

The development of these real-time PC capabilities have been combined with an aircraft simulation, terrain video generator, and other aircraft hardware simulations to create a crew station training capabiilty. MGSA personnel supported the development of the AC-130H Gunship Crew Station Trainer (HCST) which is currently installed and operational for aircrew training and rehearsal.

Leveraging off of the capability for the Crew Station Trainer, MGSA personnel defined and supported the development of the capability to execute the AC-130H Gunship MC, CDU, Aircraft Simulation software, terrain video/sensor simulation, and assorted other supporting functions to create a stand alone Part Task Trainer capability for the aircrew and maintenance personnel. The Gunship Part Task Trainer (PTT) was designed as a non-proprietary Windows based application.   It operates as a stand alone trainer, but can be connected (via Ethernet) to other PCs executing the PTT software to provide a multi-station training capability.

Multiple video output (as shown) is provided from a single PC.

MGSA personnel have re-targeted the AC-130H Gunship Mission Computer JOVIAL source code to a Power PC executing under a Linux operating system in real-time.  This capability provides Mil-Std-1553B communications as is required within the aircraft. Non-1553B data requirements are currently provided via Ethernet, although future growth options include provision for data transfer via VME input/output analog and discrete hardware.