ZMicro to Provide Rugged Computers for US Sky Warden Aircraft

L3Harris Technologies has awarded ZMicro a contract to supply rugged computing solutions for the US Special Operations Command AT-802U Sky Warden light attack aircraft.

Under the contract, ZMicro will integrate two ZM3 ultra-lightweight rugged computers into each plane “for situational awareness and mission management applications.”

ZM3 uses a Type 7 COM Express module to support 16 Core Intel Xeon D Processors with up to 96G DDR4 RAM.

It can accommodate double-wide COTS graphics cards and an additional PCI Express card for future expansion.

The ZM3s will be installed in the aircraft’s body and connected to a storage docking unit in the cockpit through an optic fiber.

ZM3 Mission Computer
ZM3 Mission Computer. Photo: ZMicro

The cockpit storage dock includes four ZMicro TranzPak 1 ultra-compact NVMe drives that give immediate access for on and off-boarding and enable operators to power the ZM3 servers remotely.

“The ZM3 was designed to provide the enterprise-class capabilities of a rack mount server in a fraction of the size and weight, making it ideal for space-constrained applications such as airborne ISR,” ZMicro President Jason Wade explained.

“It is unique because it’s the smallest, lightest rugged mission computer available that can support an NVIDIA GPU card, which is needed to run the advanced and trusted mission execution software developed by L3Harris ForceX.”

Armed Overwatch Program

Earlier this year, Special Ops Command granted L3Harris and Air Tractor Inc. a $170 million contract to develop six modified, mission-configured Sky Warden AT-802Us for the command’s Armed Overwatch Program low-rate initial production Lot 1 phase.

The Sky Warden is built to operate in more austere, challenging combat environments.

Its design combines a larger intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance aircraft and an armed aircraft “into a single cost-effective, resilient platform” that gives pilots the agility and flexibility to counter threats.

The command plans to obtain a fleet of up to 75 manned, fixed-wing aircraft for future irregular warfare, precision strike, close air support, and armed intelligence operations.

“L3Harris continues to be a fantastic partner to work with in terms of thinking outside the box to deliver leading-edge solutions,” Wade said.

“With Sky Warden, we can meet a critical need for US Special Operations Command for a low-cost aircraft that can take off and land in austere fields, fly for long periods, and support a variety of modular payloads.”

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