REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (May 19, 2016) --- The U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center is enhancing aviation communications abilities by providing solutions to the Improved Data Modem.

IDMs enables digital messages to be sent and received from a modernized, rotary-wing aircraft. It takes information transferred between ground crew or pilots and translates it to send over one of three possible networks. The IDM is fielded on every modernized, rotary-wing Army aircraft, including the CH-47 Chinook, AH-64 Apache and UH-60 Black Hawk.

The IDM Systems Interoperability Lab, hosted at AMRDEC's Software Engineering Directorate Aviation Systems Integration Facility, conducts testing to discover and troubleshoot issues in the IDM software before installation on an aircraft.

"The IDM must send and receive digital messages from various products, networks, and aircraft. There are 11 IDM software variations, three hardware variances and four documents that guide which software goes on which hardware. Add in the multiple versions of aircrafts that uses the various types of IDMs, the multiple networks, the multiple battle commands, the multiple radios involved managed by many different PMs across multiple PEO's and one can see how difficult it is to meet project objectives," said Scott Dennis, director of the Aviation Systems Integration Facility.

AMRDEC's SIL uses live, virtual and constructive simulation to detect errors and provide digital communication support to the Warfighter.

"AMRDEC is able to test real IDMs as if we were a combat aviation brigade. We support people who develop and send messages to aviation so we have a direct link to their system integration lab. We can configure any aviation asset using IDM hardware or software variant," Dennis said. "We use virtual battlefield simulations that allows us to visualize the IDM being flown in an Apache or a Chinook conducting a tactical scenario. These virtual tactical environments, allow us to test all the boundaries and conditions a Soldier would experience it in the real world."

In 2015, the SIL identified three defects in IDM version 9.2.1.1 operational flight program. Historically this defect would not have been identified until late in the platform integration or Army Interoperability Certification testing. Detection in the software development phase saved the program approximately $4.5 million, according to Dennis.

"If 20 percent of errors are introduced in the testing stage it costs 110 times more money to correct. Finding errors early in the development stage can reduce the platform cost for the customer," Dennis said.

"AMRDEC's software development environment is the only place with the facility, skills, and labor workforce that has the capability to test the inoperability of the Chinook, Black Hawk, Apache integrated with IDM's in one place," said Dennis. "We have unity of command, we have unity of contract, we are connected to labs in and outside the building and we can share equipment with colleagues. This is cost effective and it provides tremendous efficiencies for the customer."

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The U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to ensure decisive overmatch for unified land operations to empower the Army, the joint warfighter and our nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.