New Cooling Technology for Open Architecture Systems Becomes Industry Standard for Fixed and Rotary-Wing Aircraft

Curtiss-Wright’s Defense Solutions division today announced a collaboration with Lockheed Martin of a new open architecture cooling standard for use with commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) VPX modules deployed on fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft. The VITA 48.8 Working Group was sponsored by Lockheed Martin, Curtiss-Wright, and Abaco, and chaired by Curtiss-Wright.

For customers, the recently ratified ANSI Standard ANSI / VITA 48.8-2017: ‘Mechanical Standard for Electronic VPX Plug-in Modules Using Air Flow Through Cooling’ (ANSI / VITA 48.8) VITA 48.8 standard significantly reduces system size, weight, power, and cost while increasing the reliability of avionics systems. Electronic functional density could nearly double or avionics weight could be reduced by hundreds of pounds per aircraft, which would significantly increase range, payload, or fuel economy.

“The ANSI / VITA 48.8 provides OEM suppliers with a licence-free industry standard for cooling the latest high-performance electronics used in demanding aerospace and defence applications.

“Embedded system customers will benefit from the recent ANSI ratification of VITA 48.8,” said Lynn Bamford, Curtiss Wright Senior Vice President and General Manager, Defense Solutions division.

“As a formal open architecture standard, VITA 48.8 delivers advanced air-flow-through cooling while delivering a great combination of weight and cost savings ideal for use in space, weight and power-constrained aircraft such as rotorcraft and UAV platforms. COTS 3U and 6U VPX solutions are now being deployed with power densities as high as 200W per square centimetre resulting from the latest processors. VITA 48.8 provides a low-cost, effective means to cool the latest generation of components.”

ANSI / VITA 48.8 compliant plug-in modules will provide government and industry customers significant cost savings and approximately 40% weight savings for avionics systems deployed in platforms such as future vertical lift aircraft. Additionally, the new cooling technology preserves investment in existing electrical and software architectures, and protects electronic components from environmental contamination. The new cooling standard defines design requirements for platforms that need high-performance processing, graphics or electronic warfare capabilities, which means that AFT-cooled plug-in VPX modules, including both 3U and 6U form factors, retains the current VITA 46.0 connector interoperability.

“Prior to the development of the ANSI / VITA 48.8 standard we were always challenged balancing the high-performance processing requirements our customers needed to effectively execute their mission. We recognised that we had to maintain the SWaP-C of the system to meet reliability and mission success needs for our fixed and rotary wing platforms,” said David Vos, Lockheed Martin Fellow.

“ANSI / VITA 48.8 addresses these challenges and allows us to bring state-of-the-art capabilities to our warfighters, while ensuring that the platforms operate reliably in all mission environments.”

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