THE AIR FORCE DESIGN AND ENGINEERING APPROACH TO LOW-COST NAVIGATION SYSTEMS

Capt. Russell E. Weaver, Jr., and Wladimir A. Reichel

Peer Reviewed

Abstract: The basic idea of navigating by an inertial system has been proven and is accepted by all of us. Although accurate inertial navigation systems have been available for a number of years, their widespread use by both military and civil aviation has been seriously curtailed because of system complexity, low reliability, and high costs. General Schriever, Commander of the Air Force Systems Command, recognized the basic need for a reliable low-cost inertial system. He, therefore, directed the establishment of an Air Force organization under the technical direction of Mr. Wladimir A. Reichel, and made it responsible for the design and development of such a system. this newly established group, assigned to the Research and Technology Division, is a part of the Air Force Avionics Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. The organization operates at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, in close proximity to the Air Force Central Inertial Guidance Test Facility, so that both organizations can share common facilities. Mr. Reichel also maintains an office at 10 Banta Place, Hackensack, New Jersey, to service the facility information exchanges and consultations with cast coast companies. Two factors make it profitable for an Air Force organization to undertake this task; first, the Air Force has the advantage of being able to chose and integrate the best components the nation has to offer without being restricted by the walls of proprietary bias; and second, the Air Force will increase substantially its technical strength and in-house capability in the inertial navigation and guidance area. Because of the short time that serious work on inertial systems has been in progress, the emphasis has necessarily been placed on developments which will advance the state-of-the-art. High quality performance has been demonstrated and is now commonplace in the field. It is now time to maintain the high standards of precision and accuracy already achieved by industry, while considerable reducing the cost by decreasing the complexity and increasing the reliability of inertial system components. Our objective is to design and develop a system with the following basic specifications: a life of 25,000 hours; an accuracy of one nautical mile per hour; a unit price of $25,000 in production quantities of two hundred; and a capability for use in all classes of manned aircraft. As an inertial step in this development program, we have been surveying industry to ascertain the progress which has been made in simplifying inertial components. This progress has been most gratifying. The survey has shown that almost everyone in the field is concerned and expending company effort in pursuit of our goal. Developments within the past year give every indication that our specifications are both reasonable and attainable. It is appropriate here to discuss just how we, working with industry, intend to meet these specifications. The following subjects go hand-in-hand and will be discussed in order: (1) simplicity, (2) reliability, and (3) cost.
Published in: NAVIGATION, Journal of the Institute of Navigation, Volume 11, Number 1
Pages: 46 - 48
Cite this article: Weaver, Capt. Russell E., Jr.,, Reichel, Wladimir A., "THE AIR FORCE DESIGN AND ENGINEERING APPROACH TO LOW-COST NAVIGATION SYSTEMS", NAVIGATION, Journal of The Institute of Navigation, Vol. 11, No. 1, Spring 1964, pp. 46-48.
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