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CHIPS Articles: ASDS — Advanced Sensor Distribution System

ASDS — Advanced Sensor Distribution System
A digital, real-time, efficient and cost-effective sensor distribution method.
By Sharon Anderson - July-September 2008
The Advanced Sensor Distribution System (ASDS) Laboratory, also known as the AN/SPQ-14(V) or ASDS lab, is a small lab with a big job. Simply stated, ASDS converts Navy tactical radar signals and radar video into a digital stream enabling ASDS radar distribution switchboards (SB-4229A(V)/SP) to distribute these signals to various consoles throughout NSWC Dam Neck to support test events and other fleet support initiatives.

NSWC Dam Neck is a Naval Sea Systems Command warfare center. It has served the fleet in its present location for more than 40 years. NSWC Dam Neck is the only NAVSEA warfare center located in Norfolk's fleet concentration area, although other NAVSEA employees work in the Hampton Roads area in the Carderock and Port Hueneme Warfare Center detachments, for example.

The ASDS program has been at NSWC Dam Neck since 1995. ASDS was developed as an upgrade to the older Radar Display and Distribution System (RADDS) or AN/SPQ-12(V). RADDS is the legacy system installed on more than 148 Navy ships.

The ASDS lab provides the distribution of multiple live Navy radars to combat systems. Additionally, system prototypes and upgrades are designed and tested at this site.

The ASDS project provides "cradle to grave" support to the Navy, providing services such as: life cycle maintenance; configuration management; system engineering; software development and maintenance; test and integration; and logistical support.

ASDS is installed on more than 48 ships, including aircraft carriers (CVN), amphibious command ships (LCC), amphibious assault ships (LHA/LHD), destroyers (DDG) and amphibious transport dock ships (LPD). ASDS is also slated for installation on all new construction LPD, LHA, LHD and DDG class ships.

ASDS consists of switchboards, converters, amplifiers, decoders and displays. The converters, (CV-3989(V)1/SP), take analog data from Navy radar, combine it with ship data, and convert it to a 64-bit data stream called the RADDS Data Stream. The RADDS Data Stream is sent to the nucleus of the ASDS system, the switchboard, (SB-4229A(V)/SP).

The switchboard distributes the data stream to various users throughout the ship, including AN/UYQ-70 and AN/SPA-25G/H displays. Decoders are used to change the data format to support analog and digital users. Amplifiers are used to split signals to additional users.

The ASDS system is quite reliable (as deployed), but the lab staff is constantly challenged with technology obsolescence. In addition to obsolescence, ASDS upgrades and new prototypes are driven by new technologies or requirements and usually a combination of factors, according to Rick Sharp, ASDS project manager.

"It's a bit of both, depending on the situation. For LRADDS, we have a requirement from the ships. For something like the AN/SPA-25H (a follow-on obsolescence upgrade to the current AN/SPA-25G Indicator Group), it comes about because of technology. Because of technology obsolescence we can't find a lot of parts. It was cheaper to go with a new design than it was to try to piecemeal every part in that system," Sharp said.

Obsolescence mitigation also provides opportunities for future enhancements and growth.

"Our next generation of sensor distribution (and follow-on to ASDS) is in the design phase now. This new system is a LAN-based design. We are working closely with the Aegis modernization team in PEO IWS 1.0 to put the LAN Radar Data Distribution System (LRADDS) on cruisers and destroyers during COTS refresh (CR3).

"The newer system [LRADDS] does what ASDS does — and a whole lot more. This time around, we are adding a software scan conversion function and will be interfacing with the new Common Display System consoles. The genealogy of distribution is RADDS to ASDS and now to LRADDS," Sharp said.

Another obsolescence solution is working its way through the design and development phase at NSWC Dam Neck, according to Sharp.

The "obsolescence challenged" AN/SPA-25G Indicator Group uses 1980s technology that is in desperate need of updating. The AN/SPA-25H is completing a few remaining Integrated Logistics Support (ILS) items prior to full implementation. The new AN/SPA-25H was designed as an AN/UYQ-70 variant.

"There are thousands of AN/UYQ-70 consoles aboard Navy ships, and we were able to utilize those lessons learned in this effort. The first delivery for the AN/SPA-25H is in November 2008 for the LHA 6.

"We are in the planning phase for backfitting the AN/SPA-25H in FY09 and FY10 on nine ships. Those ships will have their AN/SPA-25G, Tactical System Interface Unit (CP-2294) and controller (CD-135) replaced with the AN/SPA-25H and a network switch, resolving the most pressing obsolescence issues they are dealing with," Sharp said.

The nine ships are: USS Nimitz (CVN 68), USS Eisenhower (CVN 69), USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), USS Tarawa (LHA 1), USS Nassau (LHA 4), USS Peleliu (LHA 5) and USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19).

"The AN/SPA-25H does everything the old one did and more. Using current technology, we are able to network multiple AN/SPA-25Hs together to get a common track picture for the operators," Sharp said.

Testing for the AN/SPA-25H has been completed, but has just begun for the LRADDS.

"We have most of the design and all of the testing and logistics ahead of us," Sharp explained.

Installation of the LRADDS system is planned for all cruisers and destroyers that are scheduled for modernization. The modernization, which is planned to run until 2021, is part of a larger Navy plan to modernize the fleet in basically two areas: hull, mechanical and electrical (HME) and combat systems (CS) upgrades.

"We have to deliver the first LRADDS system in March of 2009 for a lab. The first ship installation is [scheduled] in June 2010. We are doing three to six ships a year for almost 45 ships over a 10 to 11-year window. In addition to LRADDS, we are also installing the AN/SPA-25H at the same time.

"The cruiser modernization and the destroyer modernization work that we are doing is done out of Program Executive Office Integrated Warfare Systems 1.0. I support PEO IWS 2.0, the Above Water Sensors directorate. I am a NSWC Dam Neck employee that spends a little over one third of my time in Washington as a member of the IWS 2.0 team. I manage the RADDS, ASDS, LRADDS and AN/SPA-25 projects out of the IWS 2.0 shop at NAVSEA," Sharp said.

There are 13 government personnel on the team and seven contractors, according to Sharp, and they are out on ships several times a month.

"Any day we could get a call that there is a problem on a ship, which we would need to respond to. The nice thing is that the fleet is right here in our backyard so it is easy for us to respond. Obviously, it takes a lot more effort to support the West Coast," Sharp said.

Working with different configurations and both new and legacy systems is complex, but it is a requirement that the ASDS team can't get around because they must support both.

"AN/SPA-25H [technology] is somewhere in between. Some projects would like to take a technology leap, but for obvious requirement reasons we must still be able to interface with legacy systems.

"We wanted to take advantage of as much state-of-the-art technology as we could. We have come up with a solution that has allowed us to service all the legacy interfaces that we have, [and] at the same time, incorporated and taken advantage of all the technical advances," Sharp said.

Luis DelValle, AN/SPA-25H project lead, agreed with Sharp's assessment of the need to support both old and new technologies.

"We are internally using features and components that are being proposed for the future CDS, the Common Display System, as well as using and keeping some of the interfaces and requirements that we have with the older legacy systems. We are somewhere in between, and we have become a bridge between enabling us to go forward in the future but always maintaining and servicing our legacy interfaces," DelValle said.

As testament to DelValle's observation, the lab is populated with several generations of consoles including the new AN/SPA-25H. Legacy equipment is juxtaposed with the new. Cables, charts and equipment take up almost every inch of space, but the team is determined in their efforts and their service to fleet customers.

While NSWC Dam Neck has a 40-year legacy for fleet training and certifications, ASDS is one project more focused on providing reliable hardware and customer service support.

Whether or not the lab provides training depends on the customer and its requirements, Sharp said.

"Cruisers and destroyers have a requirement that we provide training material to their schoolhouse, and they take that and develop the curriculum. In the case of the AN/SPA-25H, it is going to come with a CD that you can put in any laptop or computer, and it will run computer-based training. There will also be training for the LRADDS system to support the customer."

For more information, contact NSWC Dam Neck public affairs at or (757) 492-6155.

Rick Sharp, ASDS project manager, and Luis DelValle, AN/SPA-25H project lead, with the AN/SPA-25H console. The first installation of the AN/SPA-25H to the fleet is planned for November 2008 for the newly named amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6).
Rick Sharp, ASDS project manager, and Luis DelValle, AN/SPA-25H project lead, with the AN/SPA-25H console. The first installation of the AN/SPA-25H to the fleet is planned for November 2008 for the newly named amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6).
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