Project A-NEW 1963
The program, launched earlier this year (1963), is known as Project A-NEW, not an acronym, but a new concept. Current funding is about $4 million with an estimated $8 million projected for fiscal 1964.
The program’s implications are far more important than these modest figures would indicate, since the A-NEW concepts will shape future large-scale procurements of airborne ASW (Anti-Submarine Warfare) avionics equipment. Project A-NEW is primarily a systems engineering program, intended to integrate existing ASW sensors and subsystems and improved models already under development to achieve greater effectiveness and ease the workload of aircraft crews. But the system integration effort involves some new hardware, including a central airborne digital computer and new tactical situation displays.
The first experimental version of the A-NEW system, referred to as XN-1, is being assembled at the Naval Air Development Center, Johnsville, Pa., for initial evaluation using an ASW simulator. Later this fall (1963) the system will be shifted to a Lockheed YP-3A, a converted turboprop Electra, for flight tests which are slated to begin early next year. The XN-1 hardware is intended to serve as a flying testbed and not to reflect the ultimate size or weight of the system.
Because of the key role planned for the airborne digital computer, Sperry Rand’s Univac Division is playing a major role in the A-NEW program. It is responsible for modifying an existing computer, originally developed by Univac under Air Force sponsorship for missile guidance, to suit the ASW mission. (Todd’s Note: This would be the Univac ADD 1000, also called Titan II. After modification it became the ADD 1020, CP-754/A for the XN-1 system, also called MOD1).
By late 1964, it is expected that an engineering prototype (XN-2) of the integrated ASW avionics system will have been procured for simulator and flight evaluation. (Todd's Note: The engineering prototype mentioned is the CP-823/U, Univac 1830 for Project A-NEW MOD3 ).
In the A-NEW integrated system, the airborne digital computer will perform many functions. It will continuously compute the aircraft’s latitude and longitude, calculate optimum deployment of sonobuoys, keep tabs on their location with respect to the moving aircraft and determine estimated target position from data supplied by all aircraft sensors. It is expected that the computer will use statistical techniques to derive several possible courses of action, displaying these and the computed probability of success, for final selection by the aircraft commander.
Because the computer acts as a central clearing house for all sensor data as well as keeping track of the aircraft movement, it should greatly simplify the problem of briefing the crew of a new aircraft coming on station.
Univac is also developing the complex programs, “software”, needed for this ASW mission. Modifications of the original computer design include addition of increased memory capacity and instruction repertory. Two years ago (1961), the Navy awarded contracts to four teams of avionics companies to study the feasibility of using a central digital computer for ASW data processing. The teams were headed by: North American’s Autonetics Div., Hughes Aircraft Co., Librascope Div. Of General Precision and Loral Electronics. Under the study, the companies were to consider not only existing ASW sensors but also new types under development. The study reports, indicated that the concept had much to offer in improving the effectiveness of airborne ASW operations. (Todd's Note: Univac was not one of the companies originally contracted to study the feasibility of using a central digital avionics computer for ASW data processing in 1961. However, in 1963, Univac Defense Systems Division was contracted to this feasibility study and submitted, “Final Report on Avionics Unit Computer Study 10-21-1963” to the Navy Bureau of Weapons only months before development of the CP-823/U, Univac 1830 began).
(C) Todd J. Thomas 2010