Lockheed Martin has developed a new version of its VCS software that adds functionality and opens up the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) control system for non-US operators.
VCSi (the ‘i’ designation referring to international) builds on the VCS-4586 software that is in widespread service with the US Army, where it is used to operate RQ-7B Shadow and MQ-1C Gray Eagle UAVs, among others.
John Molberg, business development manager at Lockheed Martin CDL Systems, told Jane’s that VCSi has been in development since early 2017, with one catalyst for the new software being international demand. The commercial software is ITAR free, Molberg explained, noting that no functionality is lost over VCS-4586, “Most of the elements that have ITAR are very specific protocols and standards that the US Army uses … there’s nothing that has been lost from a technical ability perspective.”
Among the improvements introduced in the new software is work undertaken to achieve certification for operation in civilian airspace – when the exact requirements are determined by the US government – with the build and testing of the software taking this into account.
Furthermore, VCSi enables the operator to control an increased number of vehicles from a single station. Molberg explained, “In the past we limited ourselves to two, perhaps four vehicles. VCSi is true one to ‘n’, so it can control as many vehicles as you like.”
Molberg added that this is not limited to the same aircraft or even type of vehicle, with the software able to simultaneously control air-, land-, and sea-based unmanned platforms.
VCSi has an open architecture that enables customers to build in their own modules and configure it to include confidential content, CDL Systems provides access to the application programming interface and the company does not require visibility of the add-ons. The software is also multi-language and multi-script, Molberg said.
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