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LM-STAR NI Software-Based Test System Saves Millions

Robert Dixon, Lockheed Martin STS

"The innovative LM-STAR approach to standardized test system development based on COTS software has yielded many cost-saving benefits for LM STS, harmonization suppliers, and the U.S. government."

- Robert Dixon, Lockheed Martin STS

The Challenge:

Delivering a test system for use in applications from manufacturing to environmental stress screening to depot testing on the more than 3,000 planned Joint Strike Fighter aircraft.

The Solution:

Creating a test system to deliver integrated support for avionics test systems by using NI TestStand and LabWindows™/CVI for the core test management and ANSI-C test development environments.

In 2001 Lockheed Martin was awarded the largest aircraft contract in history. The Joint Strike Fighter (JSF)/F-35 contract, valued at approximately $200 billion, provides the cornerstone of future defense capability for the United States and its allied partners. A crucial part of the JSF contract is delivering a test system for use in applications from manufacturing to environmental stress screening to depot testing on the more than 3,000 planned JSF aircraft. To meet this challenge, Lockheed Martin Simulation, Training & Support (LM STS) developed the LM-STAR test system to deliver integrated support for avionics test systems. Designed to rapidly develop test solutions and support customers’ exact needs in a cost-effective and timely manner, the LM-STAR system uses NI TestStand and LabWindows/CVI software for the core test management and ANSI-C test development environments.

 

Open Software Architecture Ensures Rapid Development

In the LM-STAR system, an open software architecture based largely on NI TestStand and LabWindows/CVI supports the seamless transition of test systems from the factory to the field. The LM-STAR solution provides a common test system for all avionics suppliers participating in the JSF Harmonization Plan. Essential for a project of the magnitude of the JSF program, the JSF Harmonization Plan allows multiple suppliers, including BAE Systems, Northrop Grumman, Rockwell Collins, and Raytheon, to simultaneously develop test program sets (TPS) using NI TestStand and LabWindows/CVI for the JSF/F-35. The advanced, open software architecture in the LM-STAR system ensures the rapid development and deployment of mission critical test systems while minimizing long-term maintenance efforts.

 

Test Software Adaptability Enables Multiple Test Configurations

Using the standard features provided by the NI TestStand commercial, off-the-shelf (COTS) test management environment, LM STS test engineers built a common test architecture to facilitate the rapid delivery of configurable test solutions. The key LM-STAR features use many core NI TestStand components, such as the flexible module adapters for calling tests developed in any test development environment and the NI TestStand process model for separating the core system functionality from the individual tests. The LabWindows/CVI development environment also contributed to the rapid configuration of LM-STAR-based test systems by providing industry-leading instrument connectivity and driver support through a proven ANSI C-based development language and a compiler optimized for test

 

Future Technology Insertion Prevents Obsolescence

The modular test architecture of the LM-STAR system protects mission-critical test systems from obsolescence by using NI TestStand and LabWindows/CVI to ease the insertion of future technologies.

 

One example is new NI TestStand support for calling ATLAS TPSs directly from NI TestStand. This technology is important for supporting legacy avionics test systems through a common test architecture capable of hosting both legacy and future test development environments. Specifically, the new ATLAS interface for NI TestStand 3.0 features the ability to browse and select ATLAS TPS files, specify parameters, and perform remote control. Run-time features include full compliance of TPS Server state transitions, such as attaching, loading, and detaching; parameter reading and writing; global locking; handling of manual TPS intervention; and the ability to pause and terminate sequence execution.

 

Avionics test system developers are also closely watching the development of the newly defined XML-based Automatic Test Markup Language (ATML) standard for describing test procedures and test results in XML. The open software architecture in the LM-STAR system will significantly ease the adoption of this data schema for avionics test systems. In fact, NI has already demonstrated that the current NI TestStand XML features can generate results in the new Test Results XML schema in accordance with the draft ATML specifications.

 

Standardized Approach Yields Significant Cost Savings

The innovative LM-STAR approach to standardized test system development based on COTS software has yielded many cost-saving benefits for LM STS, harmonization suppliers, and the U.S. government. LM STS estimates their standardized LM-STAR approach to the JSF/F-35 program has already saved the U.S. government millions of dollars and has the potential to save hundreds of millions more over the life of the program.

 

The mark LabWindows is used under a license from Microsoft Corporation. Windows is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and other countries.

 

Author Information:

Robert Dixon
Lockheed Martin STS
robert.g.dixon@lmco.com