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Aerospance & Defense Solutions

Security: The Key to Affordable Unmanned Aircraft Systems

Aerospace Profile for VxWorks
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Wind River VxWorks 653 Platform
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Wind River VxWorks MILS Platform
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Unmanned systems
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Delivering Next-Generation Safe and Secure Intelligent Systems

Global aerospace and defense companies are continually challenged to deliver safe, secure, and reliable systems to satisfy complex mission-critical requirements. In addition, the demand for increased situational awareness drives a greater array of intelligent systems, from widely dispersed remote sensors to unmanned surveillance vehicles within C4ISR systems. The resulting connectivity requires increased cybersecurity and cyber warfare capabilities.

Traditional business issues around competitive advantage, cost control, and time-to-market become more difficult to manage as the deployed systems become more complex. Risk can be reduced in these critical systems by utilizing commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) technology and open standards for greater interoperability. But system developers must also choose technology partners who can minimize risk over the life of a product to be successful in today's highly competitive marketplace—partners like Wind River®.

Customer Spotlight


NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Curiosity Mars Rover

On August 6, 2012, NASA landed Curiosity, the world's most technologically advanced autonomous robotic spacecraft, in the Gale Crater on Mars. Learn how Wind River VxWorks® controls the craft's operations, from the initial launch to the "seven minutes of terror" landing, to the complex, mission-critical tasks it will perform on Mars to determine whether the planet is or has ever been capable of supporting life.

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Northrop Grumman X-47B UCAS

The Wind River VxWorks real-time operating system (RTOS) is a key technology for the X-47B in the Navy’s Unmanned Combat Air System Carrier Demonstration (UCAS-D) program. VxWorks was chosen by Northrop Grumman as the software platform for the UCAS-D program and by GE Aviation as the foundation for the common core system, the backbone of UCAS-D computers, networks, and interfacing electronics.

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Business Issues


Platform consolidation has become an increasingly viable option with advancements in silicon processing power within reduced footprints and with multi-core support. Consolidation strategies have already been proven in systems based on ARINC 653. They greatly reduce size, weight, and power (SWaP), as well as provide a solid foundation for future technology refreshes.


Commercial avionics software already must comply with RTCA DO-178C /EUROCAE ED-12C, but as military systems and unmanned systems start to share commercial airspace, the demand for certification of these platforms is also increasing. At the same time, widespread cybersecurity threats from a large range of actors have led to new regulations for all connected devices. Intelligent platforms require a robust combination of system architecture and adaptability to survive.


In order to make future platforms more affordable, there is a common desire to move toward open architecture–based systems, which would deliver improved application interoperability and portability. This goal of reducing development and support costs has driven new open architecture–based standards (such as FACE™) that are now being applied to future system procurements.

Industry Focus Areas

Safety Critical Systems

An increase in the number of aircraft and the introduction of unmanned aircraft has led to rising demand for safety-certified systems. As system autonomy and connectivity increase, the single end-point system is no longer the sole critical system that needs safety evaluation—networked devices now must develop a systems approach to creating a viable safety case. Adding to this complexity, safety critical systems are now being consolidated in order to reduce the cost associated with recertification through the use of integrated modular avionics (IMA).

Mission Critical Systems

Today’s command and control systems must continue to respond in sub-seconds while supporting a wider range of connectivity and functionality. Overall reduction in defense budgets, along with this demand for more functionality, is driving the move from expensive proprietary systems to open architecture–based systems with the promise of lower cost and easier technology insertion.


Today's networks are challenged to provide more capability using COTS systems. This can only be accomplished by implementing global communications standards on powerful multi-core platforms. As IPv6 becomes pervasive in military networks it is essential that systems are built robustly, with the ability to monitor and counterattack threats, while at the same time providing high bandwidth links to support situational awareness in the battle space.

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Wind River, a wholly owned subsidiary of Intel Corporation (NASDAQ: INTC), is a world leader in embedded and mobile software. Wind River has been pioneering computing inside embedded devices since 1981 and its technology is found in more than 500 million products