More than 40 years after its first flight, the F-16 from General Dynamics (now spent under the thumb of Lockheed-Martin) still the spearhead of many air forces. Including the US Air Force. Where the F-35, his successor budget overruns, attract the wrath of Donald Trump, the F-16 could well know a second youth, including in the United States. Lockheed Martin offers the F-16V, a modernized version that could afford to wait for the rise of the F-35. The Air Force has just asked Raytheon to replace its F-16 on-board computers to give them more versatility. The opportunity to revisit embedded this legend aircraft computing.
An on-board computer based on MIPS processors since the 1970s
The F-16 is not close to leaving the heavens. The American air force comes to give Raytheon the computer of its F-16 replacement market. It will be the fourth major generation of MMC (Modular Mission Computer) for the jet, which was built to more than 4,500 copies. The first generation, the MMC3000 relied on MIPS R3500, a 32-bit chip processors with 110,000 transistors and running at 12 MHz. We found this chip on the end of the 1990s HP9000 computers. The computer had 4 MB of memory RAM.
The MMC5000, the second generation of the F-16 computer, still relied on a chip MIPS, a RM5260 who was noticeably faster (with a 133 MHz to 150 MHz clock frequency) and above all it is a 64-bit chip. The memory was more than doubled, with 10 MB available.
The MMC7000 that equips the more modern F-16, including all F-16 Europeans who benefited from the MLU (mid-life Update) modernisation, has always that 10 MB of memory but its RM7000A processor, designed in the early 2000s, works between 300 and 400 MHz. It delivers a theoretical power of the order of 800 MFlops.
What will be the chip that will equip the next version of the MMC? The information has not been released officially. Simply, Raytheon said it will offer a power multiplied by 2, while the memory capacity will be multiplied by 40. A quantum leap for the F-16, but a still modest power compared to that of a high-end smartphone… It will however allow the F-16 to embark new software to expand the types of weapons or receive new radars and other electronic equipment and wait as the F-35 to take his estate.
Translation : Bing Translator
“U.S. Air Force selects Raytheon F-16 mission computer”, Communiqué de presse Raytheon, December 16, 2016
“Trump calls fighter jet costs ‘out of control'”, CNN, December 12, 2016