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By Paul Parkinson, Senior Systems Architect, Wind River


This article provides a technical overview of the Tornado Advanced Radar/Map Display Information System (TARDIS) being developed by BAE SYSTEMS for the Tornado GR4 aircraft using Wind River PLATFORMS®.


BAE SYSTEMS Avionics Systems was recently awarded a $70 million contract [1] to provide 128 radar map display systems for the UK Royal Air Force Tornado GR4 ground attack aircraft [2] [3] (as shown in figure 1). The system, known as the Tornado Advanced Radar/Map Display Information System (TARDIS) is being developed in Edinburgh, Scotland; and will replace obsolete radar projected map display systems. TARDIS is with a state-of-the-art system using active-matrix liquid crystal displays, the latest radar processing techniques, map generation software and graphics using Wind River PLATFORM technologies [4] and COTS hardware.

TARDIS provides digital colour display screens for the Tornado pilot and navigator, which can be used co-operatively or independently, and performs data fusion of radar data and digital moving map display data to provide advanced enhanced situational awareness for low-level terrain navigation and avoidance capabilities. The Tornado navigator’s view of TARDIS is shown in figure 2.

System Architecture

The TARDIS map display system is an evolution of a VxWorks-based map display system which BAE SYSTEMS Avionics Systems has developed for other military aircraft. The TARDIS map display system architecture is a multiprocessor VMEbus design, comprising multiple PowerPC™ VME Single Board Computers (SBC) running the VxWorks 5.5® Real Time Operating System (RTOS). The control processor consists of a Dy-4 Systems SVME-179 Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) SBC [5], and the display processor is a Dy-4 Systems SMVE/DMV-712 [6] which has been developed as part of a collaborative effort between BAE SYSTEMS Avionics in Edinburgh and Dy-4 Systems, Canada.

The digital moving map display device software executing on the PowerPC processors under VxWorks performs inter-processor communication over the VMEbus backplane using Wind River’s Shared Memory Objects multiprocessing middleware. This enables data to be shared between VxWorks tasks running on the control and display processors in an efficient manner, whilst providing a degree of abstraction from the underlying VMEbus architecture and scalability. The VxWorks-based device software running on the display processor uses OpenGL graphical libraries to drive the active-matrix liquid crystal displays.

Device Software Optimization

BAE SYSTEMS has defined a Device Software Optimisation (DSO) strategy based on the use of Wind River’s General Purpose Platform VxWorks Edition to develop the TARDIS map display device software as part of their CMM Level 5 software development processes [7]. The Wind River General Purpose Platform enables BAE SYSTEMS engineers to accelerate the development of their UML-based design, through a development suite which contains proven tools to develop, build, debug and optimize their C and C++ device software through a user interface. In addition, the VxWorks RTOS provides commonality across the TARDIS control and display processors through software abstraction from the underlying hardware architectures. This strategy enables BAE SYSTEMS’ engineers to gain experience, develop expertise, and to maximise their productivity through consistent use of the development tool suite.

During the development of the display processor board and VxWorks Board Support Package (BSP), BAE SYSTEMS used Wind River’s visionICE II JTAG Emulator to accelerate the hardware bring-up of the board, with assistance from Wind River Services.

BAE SYSTEMS is using the Wind River System Viewer (formerly known as WindView™) [8] during the system integration phase to observe the real-time performance of the TARDIS subsystems; which provides BA

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