Date of Award

5-2007

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Major

Aviation Systems

Major Professor

Robert B. Richards

Committee Members

George Masters, Richard Ranaudo

Abstract

The P-3C is a U.S. Navy aircraft designed for the Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance mission. Although capable in a number of mission areas, the aircraft’s Anti-Submarine Warfare capabilities have received much attention lately due to improvements in diesel submarine technology. The acoustic systems on the P-3C needed a better way to more rapidly incorporate new technology while working within a constrained budget environment.

The purpose of this study is to show how the P-3C Acoustic System can be transformed by shifting from the slow, expensive traditional Military Specification (MILSPEC) development process to the successful Acoustic Rapid Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) Insertion (ARCI) process developed for the submarine community. This paper, authored by the Deputy Program Manager for P-3C Acoustic Systems, describes the requirements of the airborne ASW mission and provide the history and architecture of the current acoustic system. It then shows how the constraints of the Department of Defense Acquisition policies present challenges to the incorporation of the latest COTS components, and outline the advantages and disadvantages of using these components.

Using the submarine ARCI Program framework, this paper shows that an Air ARCI program can be made to work with the P-3C acoustic system through the use of Abbreviated Acquisition Programs and periodic technological refreshes to the system. These periodic updates using less expensive COTS components will be combined with an open architecture to ease the incorporation of new software and hardware from across all platforms. This will allow the system to remain up to date while significantly reducing development costs, weight, power, volume, and cooling requirements.

There are risks inherent in using COTS components that must be managed through the use of comprehensive system-level testing, adherence to schedule and a stabilized funding stream. There must also be a plan in place to manage component End of Life issues and the effects of vendor-initiated hardware revisions. Finally, given the heavy operational use of the aircraft around the world, the use of test assets and Fleet aircraft installations must be balanced with operational needs to provide the best combination of technological currency, cost, configuration management, and supportability and spares reduction.

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