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Improved Data Modem (IDM 401) - Airborne System

Improved Data Modem (IDM 401) Aerospace Design ExampleThe IDM is the common solution for digitizing Army Aviation, performing as an internet controller and gateway to the Tactical Internet and Fire Support network. The IDM facilitates the sharing of situational awareness (SA), sensor, and command and control (C2) data with our digitized Army, Joint, and coalition aviation partners. The IDM serves as the crucial interface between platform mission computers and radios, supporting legacy very high frequency (VHF) radios, ultra-high frequency (UHF) radios, and Blue Force Tracker (BFT) satellite transponders. As the digitized Army Aviation’s integrated C2 and SA solution, the IDM hosts Force Battle Command Brigade and Below–Air (FBCB2-Air) and processes Air Force Applications Program Development, Variable Message Format messages, and Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System (AFATDS) messages, further enhancing Aviation’s combat multiplicative effect.

With interfaces supporting a six-channel transmit/receive terminal, the IDM provides radio connectivity to the ARC-201D/231, ARC-186, ARC-164, and the Blue Force Tracker's MT-2011 and AVX-06/203 Transceivers. IDM provides a flexible, software-driven, digital messaging system that is interoperable with existing Army and Joint forces battlefield operating systems. The IDM is currently utilized by the Apache (AH-64D), Chinook (CH-47F), and Black Hawk (UH-60M) Army helicopter platforms. The program supports Open Systems Architecture (OSA), Future Airborne Capability Environment (FACE) and Common Operating Environment (COE) standards and interoperability.

Strict IDM requirements for 4-hour cold soak, turn-on operation at -54° C, and 4-hour continuous operation at 71° C at 20,000 feet were met. Moreover, strict power consumption of less than 75W input power as well as specific flight and gunfire vibration profiles had to be achieved. Stringent embedded operational/environmental specifications were met using standard NAI 3U cPCI COTS products and production methods, such as BGA component underfill to support the extreme vibration levels. NAI utilizes in-house SMT, underfill, conformal coat, 5D X-RAY, and Automated Optical Inspection (AOI) equipment for all Printed Circuit-Card Assemblies.

NAI’s complete solution for the IDM OSA is comprised of the following products:


  • COTS 3U cPCI rugged, conduction-cooled SBC
  • Multifunction I/O serial interface and Gig-E layer 2+ switch boards
  • High efficiency power supply
  • Power conditioning unit
  • Four 3U cPCI boards
  • The 3U cPCI boards were configured with a variety of functions. The functions included:


  • MIL-STD-1553-to-Ethernet communications
  • Four Communications and Networking Riser communications with discrete I/O ports
  • Four RS-232/422/485/423 programmable asynchronous serial communication ports
  • Eight TTL/GPIO discrete channels
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