Technology: Defending Against the Unknown

October 3, 2016 | Author: Tom Hart

The U.S. Army is taking a holistic look at how it reinvents and modernizes its operations in an age of fast-paced technology development amid hybrid warfare in a highly unpredictable world. While that’s a complicated task, we’re confident the Army can do it, and after working with the Army for decades, we have some ideas on how we can help.

As the Army looks to its future, it faces a new hybrid war scenario that blends conventional warfare, irregular warfare and cyberwarfare. It also faces a changing technology landscape and an ever-present financial crunch. In this difficult situation we’ll continue to support the military and help provide guidance and clarity to “define the undefined future.” So the question becomes, “How do we define the undefined?”

If the threats we’ll face in the next five, 10, 20 or 50 years are unknown, how can the Army prepare? And how can it do so responsibly from a fiscal perspective? We have creative solutions that will not only help the Army rapidly innovate for future platforms, services and needs, but that can be applied to current platforms and services as well. It will keep costs down, be flexible and easy to maintain, and let the Army stay ahead of its adversaries while being conscious of cost. It’s something we’re all familiar with: software.

We’re helping the Army define this undefined future through the advanced use of software that will be able to update current platforms to make them last longer and perform better, all at a lower cost than replacing the engine entirely. We’re also using software to create a truly connected battlefield to share information and data with all necessary assets, and we’re using software to rethink the concept of what ground vehicles should look like and how a pilot can see his or her surroundings.

Here’s what Honeywell is working on in the short, middle and long term for the Army:

T55 IPE Turboshaft Engine

Honeywell’s T55 engine has been powering the CH-47 Chinook helicopter for more than 50 years. Over this time, we have introduced a series of upgrades and improvements to meet the Chinook’s challenging heavy-lift missions. We are developing another upgrade to the engine that will meet the expected lift needs well into the 2030’s.

We are undertaking an upgrade program, resulting in the model T55 IPE engine that will successfully showcase efficiency and power improvements in the most demanding environments. The upgraded engine will increase power efficiency by approximately 25 percent, with a total of 6,000 shaft horsepower and about an 8 percent reduction in fuel usage. This upgrade could be incorporated at overhaul, which would greatly reduce ownership costs and lessen the need for a new engine program.

We think performance and power don’t need to come at an unreasonable cost. That’s why the T55 IPE is such a good fit for the Army’s next major upgrades for the Chinook.


Honeywell is adapting its JetWave satellite communications technology for the GX Aviation network to the defense industry. This means troops will have access to consistent, global, high-speed connectivity on their missions.

Using Inmarsat’s GX satellite network, military operators can get a high-speed data pipeline for applications including transmission of large files, streaming videos, secure voice communications, high-resolution weather data and more.

We have two antenna options that will allow GX Aviation to be configured for a variety of military airframes. As well, we have a backpack for ground troops that will bring GX Aviation connectivity down to earth. Our hardware is already certified and ready for numerous commercial platforms that can easily be transitioned to the military.

Precision Navigation

In GPS-denied environments, the Army needs a navigation system it can count on. With a history of proven precision navigation technologies, Honeywell is trusted by the Army to precisely and reliably support its missions in the most strenuous environments.

Honeywell is working on key navigation technologies, including:

  • TALIN Inertial Land Navigator family: More than 15,000 of our TALIN systems are deployed by land, air and sea on more than 60 military commercial platforms around the world. TALIN is a battle-tested solution, and Honeywell is working on a TALIN upgrade on the Army’s Paladin howitzer to provide increased accuracy.
  • Embedded GPS/Inertial Navigation System (EGI): Its tight integration of GPS and inertial navigation makes this product ideal for highly precise navigation requirements, especially when inches can determine mission success. The EGI can be found on most U.S. military aircraft, and we’ve delivered more than 50,000 of them during the past 20 years.
  • Inertial Measurement Units (IMUs): A smaller version of Honeywell’s HG1700 IMU provides users with the design flexibility needed to get the job done in a smaller, lighter package with the same level of performance.

Sense and Avoid

Honeywell has worked for decades to make manned aircraft safer around the world, and our product portfolio reflects this emphasis on safety. Now, we’re applying that knowledge to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Sense-and-avoid solutions aren’t currently available for these systems to operate in national civilian airspace, so Honeywell is developing these capabilities for UAVs around the world.

Honeywell is working with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), NASA, platform developers and most recently Israel Aerospace Industries for its Heron family of unmanned aerial systems, which will be ready for demonstration in 2018.

Honeywell’s approach is sensor and platform “impartial,” meaning we are designing the product to be used with any and multiple sensors on various platforms.

Degraded Visual Environment

Honeywell can give Army rotorcraft pilots the most accurate view of the landscape in any degraded visual environment (DVE), allowing the Army to operate where others cannot.

Honeywell’s approach is based on our certified synthetic vision product called SmartView™, which involves integrating existing information and real-time sensor data to provide the most accurate “out-the-window” view in certain environments, such as in snow, dust, rain or fog. The approach — called the Synthetic Vision Avionics Backbone (SVAB) — addresses all phases of flight and includes software, algorithms and hardware.

Honeywell DVE work includes several government-funded programs. One of the current efforts, called the Multimodal Sensor Fusion Development, focuses on integration of our world-class SVAB with multiple infrared cameras, providing a potential 360-degree view around the helicopter. The development will conclude with a lab demonstration, leading to a 40-month program for a final concept design and demonstration.

Future Cockpit

Honeywell was recently awarded a contract for continued demonstration of the Army’s reference architecture for the Joint Multi-Role (JMR) effort supporting the Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program. Honeywell is collaborating with industry partners to prove the architecture is open and modular to accommodate future helicopter avionic applications like sense and avoid (SAA), degraded visual environment (DVE), navigation and displays.

The effort will result in a lab demonstration exchanging avionic subsystem “models” with our partners. This successful exchange will be a significant step in proving the feasibility of the avionics approach envisioned by the Army. The approach includes an acquisition strategy that will keep avionics cost low while maintaining desired functionality with all potential suppliers.

Ground X-Vehicle Technology

Honeywell envisions that windows for ground vehicles will become a thing of the past, making missions much safer. We are working on making the virtual battlefield a reality for the Army with Ground X-Vehicle Technology (GXV-T). Honeywell has signed a $2.3 million contract with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to continue our second phase of testing, so we’re moving on to real-world tests that will begin in May 2017.

The expected impact of the GXV-T program includes improving situation awareness for open- and closed-window vehicles to reduce crew size, enhancing mission effectiveness, and improving the survivability of ground vehicles.

Visit Honeywell’s Booth #6623 at AUSA to learn more about how we’re helping the Army prepare for the future of defense.

Tom Hart

Tom Hart

Vice President, Defense and Space, Honeywell Aerospace