Meeting the Challenges of the 21st Century with Mil Std 1553

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In 1973 the need to communicate between systems on board aircraft was conceived and in 1978 it was released as a standard – the birth of Mil Std 1553.

On its face this 5-year incubation period seems a bit excessive, but the result was a standard that has withstood the test of time.  Pre-dating the personal computer, 1553 has evolved to be the pre-eminent communication bus architecture aboard military aircraft.   Having been conceived 4 years after we landed on the Moon in 1969, governments around the world have adopted 1553 or some deriva-tives.  Today 1553 has moved beyond airplanes to be used for Smart Bombs, UAVs and Space Craft.

This simple and reliable communication bus has proven itself to be reliable and stable.  Similar to a small block Chevy motor, 1553 has been able to increase its modest performance through numer-ous “bolt” on performance enhancements and yet maintain its leg-endary reliability.  Adopting a bus architecture with a strong bus ar-bitration, allowed 1553 to address much more complex systems then that of ARINC 429 with its point-to-point topology.

As 1553 continues to evolve with an enhance bit rate of up to 10Mb/s it narrows the gap in addressing the majority of applica-tions.  Through a simple implementation that allows for determin-istic control for real-time response, Ethernet based solutions such as AFDX adopted on commercial airlines struggle to unseat the tried- and-true nature of the broadly installed base of 1553.  Through the expansion of the 32 bit word, 1553 has been able to address the greater demands represented by RADAR and other higher speed ap-plications.

After a half a century and a broad installed based, the largest threat to 1553s future is the requirements brought forward as we move to UAV’s that have highly complex AI engines.

Tomorrow will bring new challenges to the mature 1553 market as advancements in design will require and even a greater data rates that can be achieved with the current 1553 solutions.  As imaging, targeting and autonomous features are added to aircrafts, smart bombs, UAVs and spacecraft’s, it will be a challenged to address the compute needs at the edge.    But just as RADAR pushed the current technology to new heights, there is a confidence that imaging and latency concerns can also be addressed using the bus concept of 1553.

In reviewing the current market, the following vendors were re-viewed to better understand the technology.  They all offer products and services beyond what is featured.  Some are specific to Avionics and 1553 and some are parts of larger companies that have a compen-dium of solutions.  We would encourage a closer review as we were limited to displaying 3 of sometimes dozens of solutions.

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