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L3Harris has now delivered the 1,000th Panoramic Cockpit Display (PCD) for the F-35 LIGHTNING II. The PCD is a standard component for all F-35s flown by US and international operators.

The PCD is comprised of a Display Unit (DU) and an Electronic Unit (EU). The DU is the display that provides situational awareness (SA) to the F-35 pilot; the EU is the computer that drives the DU. The system presents clear, crisp, high-fidelity graphics and video from multiple external sources, on a single, monolithic 2560 X 1024 active matrix liquid crystal display (AMLCD). Bryant Henson, President of Mission Avionics, L3Harris Space & Airborne Systems, explained how the PCD helps increase pilot SA in this fifth-generation aircraft. “The pilot can change sizes, locations, and content of windows, including a large window with a tactical situation display. The display can be manipulated through the touchscreen, cursor hooking, or voice control […] So now instead of a pilot manipulating a disparate set of control panels and interacting with a separate display per sensor like in older aircraft, fusion presents a single integrated operational picture on the display.”

While L3Harris could not identify specific members of its industry team, it was noted the company uses a world-class team of international and domestic partners to build display components, including circuit card assemblies, chassis pieces, and the AMLCD.

L3Harris is again taking advantage of the commercial world driving both processing innovation and market competition for affordability in defence programmes.

In this instance, the circuit card assemblies in the TR-2 PCD EU and DU currently in production use COTS components. Further, L3Harris is also developing the new Aircraft Memory System (AMS) and PCD EU as part of the F-35 Tech Refresh-3 (TR-3). “Both components are based on open architecture and COTS technology,” Henson pointed out. The AMS provides solid-state mass storage capability for the F-35 avionics subsystems. It is the repository for avionics operational flight programmes, mission and theatre data, prognostics and health data, audio, display video and aircraft parametric data. The EU provides processing for the TR-3 panoramic head-down display. “Open systems are the future of avionics and L3Harris is investing substantial R&D to develop these solutions. The L3Harris-developed TR-3 Integrated Core Processor is an example of how the DoD can leverage advances in processing driven by the commercial market and apply them to the F-35. Open systems are the standards-based framework from which we are able to do this. For example, the use of VITA 48 3U and 6U VPX [standard]-based modules that include processors and FPGAs [field-programmable gate array] developed for broader commercial use,” Henson explained.

L3Harris is under contract to provide 500 more PCDs through 2022 as part of the Tech Refresh-2 programme. “We expect follow-on spares orders through 2029. There are no planned upgrades to the TR-2 PCD, which L3Harris provides. However, L3Harris is also developing the new PCD Electronic Unit as part of the F-35 Tech Refresh-3,” Henson concluded.

Marty Kauchak

The PCD fuses data from multiple sensors to provide the pilot with crisp, clear imagery, thus enhancing situational awareness. (Photo: L3Harris)

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