Dual-use CNS boosts civil-military interoperatility

12 April 2018

This paper was awarded the Best of Track paper award at the 18th Integrated Communications, Navigation and Surveillance Systems (ICNS2018) Conference as part of the Special Topics Track.


Global aviation infrastructure is steadily migrating towards performance based principles and concepts. Military operators permanently strive for the recognition that the capabilities available onboard modern military aircraft can offer compliance and sustain equivalent levels of civil Air Traffic Management/ Communications, Navigation and Surveillance (ATM/CNS) performance. The reutilization of military avionics to support ATM functions can drastically reduce retrofits and integration costs. To accommodate military flights in a mixed environment, interoperability is the key enabler, not equipage exemptions. That is valid in particular when there is a need to cope with modernised ATC systems, new network centric data exchange structures, advanced satellite-based navigation and aircraft avionics that need to be more cooperative with the underlying surveillance and data communications infrastructure.

Global interoperability, the new all-inclusive aviation concepts and architecture and the related efforts to rationalise the ATM/CNS infrastructure, provide a perfect framework for a more cooperative civil and military ATM network, including backwards compatibility with legacy systems. Civilmilitary interoperability solutions for the optimal reuse of military capabilities are to be subject of focused industrial research initiatives which must consider the following CNS evolution trends:

  • increasing connectivity and higher automation levels (sometimes referred as “digitalization”),
  • more secure and resilient infrastructure,
  • combined satellite-based, airborne and groundbased CNS,
  • more performance-based CNS,
  • focus on efficient use and increased sharing of radio spectrum aviation bands,
  • aircraft-centric concepts and modular avionics architectures and
  • more focus on services than on physical assets and remote/virtual provision.

To address the challenges put by the increasing avionics predominance and functional allocation principles of 5th generation fighter aircraft, appropriate consideration must be given to system integration, modularity and multi-mode avionics architectures. In fact, state of the art integrated modular avionics architecture (IMA) is now used as the basis for mainline aircraft after being used in military fighter programmes. IMA can be viewed as a single entity comprising many integrated processing resources which can be used to construct any avionics system regardless of size and complexity.

This IMA architecture and in depth analysis of particular military aircraft functional components indicate substantive opportunities to exploit dual CNS compliance for military avionics. The present paper describes such particular military aircraft avionics configurations identifying some areas for dual use opportunities. 

Dual use CNS is one of the options for military to comply with civil ATM/CNS requirements opening the door to huge benefits by enabling seamless operational handling, increasing interoperability, avoiding duplicated equipage and drastically reducing investments on CNS retrofits.

The full paper is available for download below.