News>Audio system provides interoperability on A-10s
579th Software Maintenance Squadron Flight C employees Rickey King (left), Ray Vines (center) and Suzy Crespo, perform testing of ALQ-213 3-D audio organic software. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ed Aspera)
Rickey King, 579th Software Maintenance Squadron computer scientist, adjusts the heads up display on ALQ-213 3-D audio organic software worn by Suzy Crespo, electronics engineer. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ed Aspera)
5/9/2014 - ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- The cockpit of an Air Force weapons system can be a noisy, busy place.
Discerning the various audio that comes across that space occurs within an important technology being tested for use on the service's A-10 aircraft. A piece of that work happens here at Robins in the 579th Software Maintenance Squadron.
Known as the ALQ-213, this electronic warfare management system consolidates cockpit controls, and displays and connects independent systems, allowing them to all work together to interface with an aircraft's pilot.
"It basically performs automatic and semiautomatic countermeasure responses for the pilots so they don't have to do those things manually," said Matthew Bryant, ALQ-213 subject matter expert. "It also enhances situational awareness through sensor correlation, display indications and audio cues."
The 3-D audio technology incorporates active and electronic noise reduction and spatially separates audio sources for pilots.
This is important because they can encounter audio cues and radio channels from various sources while in the air. The move will reduce information overload and mental fatigue by significantly reducing noise.
"From an electronic warfare standpoint, the ALQ-213 dynamically renders electronic warfare sensor information and threat audio cues to the 3-D audio panel," he said. "The 3-D audio technology automatically sorts and presents information spatially in real time to the pilot to include the direction of threats."
The technology moves inside a pilot's helmet as he turns his head to determine where threats may be coming from. It not only boosts situational awareness and pilot response time, but also reduces pilot fatigue through cleaner audio.
"When the pilot looks a certain way, the audio moves with him," said Bryant. "It takes into account such things as angle and head orientation. Since the aircraft systems are interfaced together, information is shared among systems to provide the 3-D audio capability."
Although the system has been flight tested, due to budget constraints, there is current debate on the future of the A-10 fleet, which has provided close-air support since the 1970s.