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Networking The Military Transportation Technology

Military Aircraft To Get All-Fiber Network Gear 144

Posted by timothy
from the network-coriolis-effect dept.
coondoggie writes "Looking to significantly reduce weight, improve on-board communications and make it easier to upgrade avionics, the US military is developing prototype phonic gear for use in all aircraft. Behind such a drastic shift is a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency project with an ungainly moniker: Network Enabled by Wavelength division multiplexing Highly Integrated Photonics (NEW-HIP)."
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Military Aircraft To Get All-Fiber Network Gear

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  • Horray (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 15, 2011 @03:20AM (#34887642)
    Now our military has more stuff, we might be able to stand a chance against another military for the first time in a long time!
    • Re:Horray (Score:4, Funny)

      by DWMorse (1816016) on Saturday January 15, 2011 @03:31AM (#34887686) Homepage
      Hah. And here -I- was excited that fighter jet pilots would finally be able to watch YouTube and download torrents are amazingly high speeds with low latency, while doing those boring maneuvers.
      • Re:Horray (Score:4, Insightful)

        by MichaelSmith (789609) on Saturday January 15, 2011 @03:57AM (#34887766) Homepage Journal

        Hah. And here -I- was excited that fighter jet pilots would finally be able to watch YouTube and download torrents are amazingly high speeds with low latency, while doing those boring maneuvers.

        Sounds likely since most of them will be flying UAVs.

      • Re:Horray (Score:5, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 15, 2011 @04:31AM (#34887912)

        Not fighter jets, transport jets.

        There was a transport flying with a fighter escort. After many hours, the fight pilot called over to the transport pilot and said, "Watch this!" and proceeded to do some acrobatics.

        The transport pilot watched and then retorted, "Oh yeah! Watch this!"

        So the fighter pilot sat and watched. And watched. And watched. Then after 20 minutes, the fighter pilot called over again and said, "I'm still waiting to see what you can do?"

        The transport pilot said, "I did it. I got up, stretched my legs, went back for cup of coffee and talked to the flight engineer, went to the john -sitting down, grabbed another cup of coffee and walked back here."

        A young boy tells his father, "Dad when I grow up, I want to be a fighter pilot!"

        The father asks, "So, which is it?"

    • by timeOday (582209)

      Now our military has more stuff, we might be able to stand a chance against another military for the first time in a long time!

      Well, read the article... there is no claim of increasing lethality here, it is all about sustainability:

      "Converting a fixed point-to-point cable infrastructure of tactical aircraft to a reconfigurable fiber-optic network that remains for the life of the air frame has the potential to save the Defense Department billions of dollars over the lifecycle of an aircraft fleet," said Ad

  • by Snorbert Xangox (10583) on Saturday January 15, 2011 @03:32AM (#34887694)

    From the summary: "prototype phonic gear" - are they going back to speaking tubes like the ones on old ships?

  • Oh they just called it that so they could say: "This plane needs a HIP replacement!"
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      If they had had more fiber in the first place, they wouldn't need new hips.
  • "photonic" -- not "phonic"
  • Given that fibre will fail even if say the cable is a kinked too much I have to say is it going to be robust enough?!?!?! Ditto with the transceivers, how many GBICs fail compare to good old ethernet ports (gigabit or 10BASET its all good).

    Further what about repairs. You don't need complex equipment or training to splice copper together, but different story with fibre. Theres a reason why telco techs who work on fibre have to do special courses and use protective equipment.

    • Once your fibre cable is installed without kinks it should be okay. As for training I worked for our road transport agency where we ran our own fibre network for CCTV signals. We sent our techs away for training on how to handle splicing, etc and they handled it okay.

    • by tyrione (134248)

      Given that fibre will fail even if say the cable is a kinked too much I have to say is it going to be robust enough?!?!?! Ditto with the transceivers, how many GBICs fail compare to good old ethernet ports (gigabit or 10BASET its all good).

      Further what about repairs. You don't need complex equipment or training to splice copper together, but different story with fibre. Theres a reason why telco techs who work on fibre have to do special courses and use protective equipment.

      What make you think the material medium will be standard in today's fiber?

    • by Wyatt Earp (1029)

      Have you seen the tests they do on military hardware for the US DoD? The stuff doesn't cost a zillion dollars because of $300 hammers but because of testing and retesting.

      Everyone that touches this equipment will have been trained, the stuff will be tested and all the bends will be measured just right.

      You know Cat-5 fails from kinks and has minimum bends too right? And in many places (government, education, health care) you need a electrician to touch anything in the wall or at the patch panel.

      I worked in a

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        "I worked in a public school district and we weren't allowed to move any cable over 2 meters long, nothing in the dropped false ceiling, couldn't fix a cable, splice or crimp Cat-5 because of code."

        Which is precisely the kind of thing that so pisses off citizens and causes them to complain about the costs of schooling. You make it sound like a hardcore Union shop... which in a way it probably is.

        Those kinds of rules are BS. Tenure is BS. Top-heavy administrations are BS. Federal interference in curriculum and school lunch programs is BS. The list goes on...

        • "I worked in a public school district and we weren't allowed to move any cable over 2 meters long, nothing in the dropped false ceiling, couldn't fix a cable, splice or crimp Cat-5 because of code."

          Which is precisely the kind of thing that so pisses off citizens and causes them to complain about the costs of schooling. You make it sound like a hardcore Union shop... which in a way it probably is.

          Those kinds of rules are BS.

          Electrocution is not bullshit. A little bit of cable in isolation should be okay for an amateur to pull, but you have to combine it with power in the false ceiling, water pipes, different sorts of networks.

          Say one amateur electrician shorts active to a metal strap and another tapes some CAT5 to it, then a child plugs it into a PC...

          • If power is run improperly or unsafely in the ceiling, then it is indeed the fault of the electrician. If an electrician shorted hot to a metal strap, then the pipe or ceiling fixture attached to that strap is electrified, an inherently unsafe condition. That has next to nothing to do with pulling low-voltage cable.
            • If power is run improperly or unsafely in the ceiling, then it is indeed the fault of the electrician. If an electrician shorted hot to a metal strap, then the pipe or ceiling fixture attached to that strap is electrified, an inherently unsafe condition. That has next to nothing to do with pulling low-voltage cable.

              It does because lots of different services have to coexist.

              • If the electrician improperly grounded a hot wire, then those services are NOT co-existing! No matter who pulls the cable.
        • by Wyatt Earp (1029)

          It wasn't about the Union, it was because of updated state code for a school in a earthquake area.

          Tenure is crap, there are too many administrators, but curriculums need to be standardized and poor kids need a school lunch program.

          The Local and State school organizations shouldn't get any say in curriculum other than what books they are going to to buy to meet Federal requirement. A standardized curriculum is the only thing that's going to end the asshattery of the Creationists and shore up standards so Ame

          • I didn't say it was union, I said it was like a Union shop.

            I don't agree that curricula need to be standardized on the Federal level. In fact, in my opinion, that is one of the problems with schools today. Same with lunches. States and municipalities are capable of doing those on their own. Will that cause discrepancies in education? Yes. Of course it will. It's just that I don't see that as necessarily a bad thing. I agree that lunches should be adequate but I very much do NOT believe it takes a Federal
          • To put my point a different way: one of the big problems I see today is the refusal of the Federal government to just let failures fail. Look at the bailouts if you want examples.

            As long as the companies -- and schools -- that are failing are propped up by the efforts and money of those that aren't, the failures will never stop failing, and the overall quality will continue to go down.
        • by aaarrrgggh (9205)

          Speaking as a licensed electrical engineer that did the network cabling for my office, a matures shouldn't be doing it above the ceiling.

          Code issues: You need proper, dedicated support wires for the cables. Do you have Powder activated anchor gun... and proper training? Are you using plenum cables in the ceiling? Are you keeping the cables off the ceiling tiles?

          Practical issues: Are you pulling against any MC cable that you could pierce the armor and insulation with enough force? Are you going to cut

    • I know nothing of what the military specifies for their aircraft or these types of equipment, I'll assume it's of a higher grade than I need in my corporate LAN.

      Regardless, fiber is tough enough to run through conduit, can be bent around corners (not right-angle turns, perhaps) and for my use, can be spliced together in the field with a piece of plastic worth about a dollar and some inexpensive tools. The military can afford to wrap the fiber in something protective to prevent kinks or breaks if they wanted

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Yes, forget about repairs. They will simply replace the piece of fiber. We're talking about multi-million (in some cases -billion) aircraft here. A new nut for mounting the turbine wheel comes individually wrapped in bubble wrap and its own cardboard box.

  • Immune to EMP?
    • Not immune to visible light (which is also electromagnetic) but if the light is strong enough to scramble your data I suspect the crew may have more pressing problems.

    • the network cables might be but none of the other stuff is - EMP hardening is a long gone requirement left over from the cold war - EMP requirements are rarely seen anymore !

  • The research is part of DARPA's Information in a Photon program which is looking to discover and take advantage of the basic information content carrying capabilities of a photon and exploit this information capacity for imaging/sensing and communications applications, the agency stated.

    I'm thinking, Oh great, they're rediscovering daylight, pen and paper.

  • Surely, they could have been more creative, and backronymed whatever that they are doing into NEW-HYPE instead of NEW-HIP.

    Reduce weight on an airplane? I'd start with the passengers. The last few times I have flown anywhere, I have been amazed how many people are overweight. But I guess military folks are in better shape then the general population.

    • by jlar (584848)

      And I guess future combat aircraft won't even have pilots onboard.

      Agent Smith: Never send a human to do a machine's job.

      • And I guess future combat aircraft won't even have pilots onboard.

        Nope, they'll have holographic autopilots!

        (points to F-35) "NEW HIPness..."

        (points to F-14) "Old and busted."

    • >Reduce weight on an airplane? I'd start with the passengers. The military's done this already. UAVs.

      And the predictions are that the next generation of fighter jets (like the F-35s - jets currently in the pipeline, but not in production) are going to be the last ones flown by people sitting inside them. We've reached the point where the pilot is the limiting factor on how fast we can accelerate or alter a jet's flight path (too many G's, the pilot passes out), and it shouldn't be hard to figure o
  • Huked awn fonix wurked four me!
  • optic fiber becomes opague when there is a nuclear explosion nearby. So these planes build in a major vulnerability to tactical nukes on the battlefield..Its just the military wanting to make more money..
  • Who ever it was who decided that every bill, program and project the government undertakes has to have its title mangled into some moronic acronym needs to be taken out back and and shot to death, starting at the toes and working up from there.

    And what a dumb acronym this is too, making the data channels in our military jets conjure up images of feeble old ladies who fall down in the shower and need bone replacements. Gah.
  • by Anonymous Freak (16973) <prius,driver&mac,com> on Saturday January 15, 2011 @05:21AM (#34888054) Journal

    The F-22 and F-35 already use IEEE-1394 (aka "FireWire") as their primary data carriers between parts of the aircraft, over shielded copper wires. Is optical cabling really that much lighter that this matters?

    • by maroberts (15852)

      Copper is more expensive than glass and degrades. A case can be made for fiber being more reliable and (probably) you need less cables.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      A wire is an antenna. A piece of copper isn't. Military electronics are hardened and then you attach a big antenna to them that can carry noise into your device. This is at least as much about protecting against anti-vehicle electronics as it is about saving weight.

    • by DougF (1117261)
      The real problem when installing this will be the LOSS of weight...specifically, the center of gravity for every single airframe will now have to be recomputed, and they will find that most of the wire is in the forward fuselage area (where most avionics are located). This means lead weights will have to be added to the forward section to balance out the loss of weight. I know, because I've already had to do it. We had a test F-111 in the early 90's configured with fiber optics. The conversion saved 650
  • We are taking damage! The ODN relays on deck 8 have overloaded!

  • The grandparent article is titled "Star Trek anyone? US sets out to build photon-based optical networks."

    Shouldn't they be building bio-neural networks then?

  • its going to be a long time before it is cost effective for your everyday UAV's and fighters - right now the technology is quite complex and costly, someday maybe - it is hard to beat the low cost of wire and the weight savings is less than you think - fiber is pretty fragile and has to be protected quite well (meaning heavy jacketing and such)

  • 10 Gbps over some new optical bus sounds like Light Peak to me.
  • by gatkinso (15975) on Saturday January 15, 2011 @10:26AM (#34889054)

    Seems like a huge market out there.

    Because they sure as hell aren't going to redesign existing avionics.

  • phonic |fänik|
    adjective
    of or relating to speech sounds.
      of or relating to phonics : the English language presents difficulties if a purely phonic approach is attempted.

    So... Fighter jets will be like the ship's bridge in old movies, the pilot will pull out some air-tube thingy and shout commands into it? Will there be speech recognition? Or will there be a person hunched up in cramped quarters down in the engine room?

  • Crosstalk and EMI are big, big bugaboos in aircraft wiring. I installed a LAN in a large airframe once, and it was incredible how much trouble we had with electronic noise from other aircraft systems. Fiber would have been a godsend, not only for the LAN but for the avionics as well.
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