Delta IV vehicle

Curtiss-Wright’s Defense Solutions division has been awarded a contract to supply its commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS)-based rugged Ethernet Switch technology in support of the US Air Force’s evolved expendable launch vehicle (EELV) programme.

Awarded by United Launch Alliance (ULA), the $2m contract covers delivery of unspecified number of Parvus DuraNET 3000 switch products for use in the Atlas V and Delta IV expendable space launch vehicles, which are the primary methods for launching US military satellites.

Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions division senior vice-president and general manager Lynn Bamford said the contract represents the company’s first opportunity to supply its Parvus rugged network solutions to the space launch vehicle market.

"The selection of our SWaP-optimised rugged subsystems helps bring the advantages of standards-based COTS hardware to these important space vehicles," Bamford said.

A ruggedised version of Cisco Systems’ IE-3000 industrial Ethernet switch, the DuraNET 3000 is specifically hardened for use in demanding military/civil internet protocol (IP) networking technology refresh applications.

With software built on the Cisco IOS Catalyst architecture, the switch is expected to contribute to a fully redundant on-vehicle local area network (LAN) used prelaunch to communicate with the flight control computer transferring pre-flight information to launch control, and route compressed digital video off the launch vehicle.

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"The switch is expected to contribute to a fully redundant on-vehicle local area network."

The switch is part of ULA’s "Common Avionics" initiative, which enables the same avionics design to be utilised on both Atlas and Delta launch vehicles.

Manufacturing work under the contract will be carried out by the Defense Solutions division at its Parvus business unit facility located in Salt Lake City, Utah, and the products will be shipped to ULA in Centennial, Colorado, US.

Initiated in the 1990s, the EELV is a USAF’s programme to assure access to space for the Department of Defense (DoD) and other US Government payloads.

Image: A Delta IV rocket begins its climb into the sky with a US satellite aboard. Photo: courtesy of NASA /Tony Gray, Gina Mitchell.

Defence Technology