We often talk about the pace of technology that renders defence products less capable, if not obsolete, after every few years. But how does it actually work? Is there a fixed time after which upgrades become mandatory? How do research and development affect the potentiality of a system, especially a fighter system?
During a Gripen seminar held on 14th Feb in New Delhi, India, Johan Segertoft, Project Manager, Gripen E Avionics, talks about the challenges that are faced by modern aircraft, and how Gripen’s avionics system is going to revolutionize the avionics industry.
Prof. Dr. Jan Bosch, a Dutch computer scientist and a professor of software engineering at the University of Groningen and at Chalmers University of Technology, had said that complexity of embedded systems grows approximately ten times every seven years. This means that complexity is growing at an exponential rate, and that is one of the major reasons why it takes a long time to develop modern aircrafts.
“It took us seven years to figure out how to develop a revolutionary avionics platform. We had to change software tool three times, because the tools we used became obsolete. So complexity puts an enormous pressure on engineers to learn and re-learn,” says Johan Segertoft.
And how does Saab tackle this problem? By building an avionics system that is less complicated and allows for easy modifications. Gripen avionics system separates 10% of core flight critical management codebase from 90% of tactical management code. This results in avionics that are hardware agnostic, leaving the tactical management to be integrated with new features without the need to re-certify the flight critical software.