UK reveals Pyramid programme to rapidly reconfigure software across multiple aircraft types

by Gareth Jennings

The Tempest future fighter is set to feature the Pyramid Reference Architecture that will enable software to be easily, cheaply and quickly cross decked from one aircraft to another. (BAE Systems)

The United Kingdom has revealed a new programme, dubbed Pyramid, to rapidly reconfigure the avionics of current and future air platforms.

Disclosed by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) on 1 October, Pyramid is billed as a reusable open-system mission architecture designed to make avionic upgrades to aircraft simpler, cheaper, and quicker.

“The Pyramid programme introduces a paradigm shift to the current method of avionic systems design and procurement,” the MoD said. “Pyramid aims to make legacy and future air mission systems affordable, capable and adaptable by adoption of an open systems architecture approach and systematic software reuse.”

Currently, each aircraft type is fitted with its own bespoke software system, meaning there can be no compatibility or crossover between them. Pyramid aims to change this by allowing each software component to be compatible with other platforms that have adopted the Pyramid Reference Architecture (PRA).

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USMC takes official delivery of Reaper UASs

by Gareth Jennings

US Marine Corps personnel control a government-owned and government-operated Reaper unmanned aircraft for the first time in late August. GA-ASO announced the official handover of ownership to the corps on 20 October. (USMC)

The US Marine Corps (USMC) has taken official ownership of two General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) MQ-9A Reaper medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), the manufacturer announced on 20 October.

The transfer of the Block 5 Reapers and their associated equipment was completed from GA-ASI to the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) on 15 October, marking the transition from a contractor-owned contractor-operated (COCO) to a government-owned government-operated (GOGO) model of operation for the corps.

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US Army insists on human-piloted rotorcraft for armed reconnaissance mission instead of UAV

by Pat Host

A US Air Force MQ-9 Reaper UAV pictured on 5 August at March Air Reserve Base in California. The US Army insists on having a piloted rotorcraft perform the armed reconnaissance mission, though an expert said the service could do it, and do it cheaper, with an MQ-9. (US Air National Guard)

The US Army insists it needs a human-piloted Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) helicopter to perform the armed reconnaissance mission despite experts telling Janes the service could perform the mission with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

Brigadier General Robert Barrie, programme executive officer for aviation, told Janes on 12 October that the existing technology requires the US Army to have a human-in-the-loop operating in the FARA for the decisions that would be required, and anticipated, for forward reconnaissance. A portion of this mission, he said, will be executed by UAVs, specifically with a combination of Air Launched Effects (ALE) and manned-unmanned teaming.

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USAF launches E-3 replacement effort, notes E-7 intent

by Gareth Jennings

Seen here in Australian service, the Boeing E-7A Wedgetail is being lined up by the US Air Force as a replacement for its ageing E-3 Sentry AWACS fleet. (DVIDS)

The US Air Force (USAF) has launched an effort to replace its ageing fleet of Boeing E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft, with the intent of fielding the same company's E-7 Wedgetail.

The USAF issued a notice of contract action, titled ‘E-3 Replacement Aircraft Studies & Analyses', on 19 October, in which it announced it is to sole-source Boeing to perform studies, analyses, and activities required to ascertain the E-7A baseline configuration, and to determine what additional work the US government might need to accomplish meeting the USAF configuration standards and mandates.

“The Aircraft Rapid Prototyping Requirements Document has specifically called out the E-7A, and it has been determined that this is a sole-source requirement,” the USAF said.

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The United Kingdom has revealed a new programme, dubbed Pyramid, to rapidly reconfigure the avionics...

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