Fully Integrated Tactical System (FITS)
Airbus Military surveillance aircraft are renowned for the variety of missions they can perform, ranging from anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare (ASW / AsuW) to civic tasks such as search and rescue (SAR), maritime patrol, or environmental protection missions, to list just a few. All these activities have a common denominator: FITS – the Fully Integrated Tactical System.
Entirely conceived and developed by Airbus Military, FITS consist of an onboard suite of networked computers and displays which provide the crews directly with the required information in a processed manner, allowing them to perform all these activities in a much easier and more efficient way. In the complex arena of surveillance operations, the design challenge for FITS is not just to gather data from today’s sophisticated multiple sensors, but to process and present that information in an “intelligent” way to let the crew act on it.
The system collects, classifies and displays the various types of sensor-data gathered in different types of surveillance mission and provides it to the crew via a highly intuitive interface. The result is maximised operational effectiveness thanks to the enhanced level of information integration and reduced workload on-board the aircraft.
FITS has been described as providing the software glue that binds the aircraft’s tactical systems together. The configuration of the FITS depends on the specific application in terms of missions, roles and platform. As a result, a different number of Multi-Function crew consoles will be provided as well as interfaces with aircraft navigation and communication systems. The airborne system is complemented by a ground-based support centre for mission-analysis and training.
FITS is designed to be modular, flexible and adaptable. Its modular nature means that it can be used in a wide range of missions from maritime patrol and ASW / ASuW to civic operations to the benefit of society such as SAR, illegal immigration and smuggling, environmental protection, and economic exclusion zone enforcement.
Because of its flexibility, it is suitable for different platforms and is already in service on the Airbus Military C212, CN235 and C295 special mission range of aircraft, as well as being at the heart of the company’s comprehensive upgrade of the Lockheed P-3 Orion aircraft. It can also be introduced on other aircraft such as the A320 family.
The system is particularly well integrated into the Airbus Military aircraft, providing a ‘single face’ for the aircraft and mission system and avoiding the challenges faced in using different suppliers.
And thanks to its widespread use of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components, standard windows-based workstations, and open architecture, it is highly adaptable to different numbers of consoles and tailored sensor packages. Typical configurations include six consoles on the P-3, four on the C295, two on the CN235 and one on the lighter C212. In all cases data can also be shared with the pilots via a dedicated cockpit display.
Sensors currently supported include: radar, electro-optic/infrared (EO/IR), acoustics, magnetic anomaly detector (MAD), automatic identification system (AIS), IFF interrogator, communications and electronic intelligence (COMINT/ELINT), and sea pollution detection systems. The system is also integrated with the aircraft navigation systems and communications systems including VHF/UHF/HF radios, satellite communications (satcom), and high frequency, Link 11 and Link 16 datalinks. In the anti-submarine warfare (ASW) role. it additionally features sonobuoy and armament inventory management plus launch pattern control.
FITS’ flexibility and modularity confer on it excellent growth capability, allowing it to handle new and updated sensors, or additional consoles as technology and operational requirements evolve. As such, it will be an integral part of the Airborne Early Warning (AEW&C) & Control version of the C295.
FITS is in widespread service on Airbus Military aircraft with military and civil customer including Ireland, Chile, and Mexico among others, and is now also operational with the Spanish and Brazilian Air Forces who both selected Airbus Military for the major upgrades of their ageing P-3 aircraft fleets. Day in day out, FITS is demonstrating its worth in military and civic applications.