On-time, on-budget – allowing KC-10s to arrive at their global destinations quicker with increased mission effectiveness and fuel savings.

The Challenge: In 2011, the U.S. Air Force KC-10 tanker fleet was facing flight restrictions in commercial worldwide airspace due to Communication, Navigation, Surveillance/Air Traffic Management (CNS/ATM) airspace mandates. The KC-10 fleet’s outdated avionics equipment was not capable of meeting the new procedures and requirements dictated by the Federal Aviation Administration and International Civil Aviation Organization. The fleet needed to be upgraded with communication, navigation and surveillance equipment to meet these new CNS/ATM requirements. Additionally, the KC-10 aircraft faced aging components (obsolescence) issues affecting the fleet’s overall Fully Mission Capable (FMC) rate, which needed to be addressed to allow them to continue to fly well into the 21st century.

The Solution: In 2011, Rockwell Collins was awarded the contract to upgrade the KC-10 to meet CNS/ATM requirements.

The KC-10 CNS/ATM program includes the integration of a new Flight Management System (FMS) with military flight planning (including tanker-unique patterns), new Inertial Navigation Units (INU) integrated with the existing analog autopilot. The upgrade will provide full CNS/ATM capability for Required Navigation Performance (RNP), Area Navigation (RNAV), Controller Pilot Data Link Communications (CPDLC) and Air Operations Center (AOC) functionality. With the award of the KC-10 CNS/ATM program, Rockwell Collins will develop, manufacture, integrate and install a fully compliant CNS/ATM solution to meet current and future airspace mandates.

With this program, Rockwell Collins is now the primary avionics provider for all U.S. Air Force tankers, building on its strong tradition of success by providing integrated avionics solutions for military aircraft. By leveraging key avionics and communications developments across the company’s commercial and military businesses and applying commercial off-the-shelf technology along with an open systems approach, Rockwell Collins is able to provide its customers with best-value solutions.

The Results:

  • When the KC-10 CNS/ATM program is completed in late 2016, the aircraft will have unrestricted access to worldwide airspace
  • New digital cockpit displays to replace mechanical Attitude Director Indicators
  • New FMS, Control Display Units (CDUs) and INUs to meet stringent CNS/ATM navigational requirements
  • Reduced obsolescence issues resulting in increased mission readiness
  • Access to GPS approaches, Standard Instrument Departures (SIDs) and Standard Terminal Arrival Routes (STARs)
  • New satellite and VHF communications equipment for CPDLC
  • New Radio Management System (RMS) for CPDLC and AOC messages

Story posted: June 5, 2013

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