DCS’s Mark Wilkins and Finley Barfield, from DCS’s Infoscitex subsidiary, cited as key contributors in prestigious award for AFRL’s Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System
The Robert J. Collier Trophy is a highly distinguished annual award recognizing “the greatest achievement in aeronautics or astronautics in America with respect to improving the performance, efficiency, and safety of air or space vehicles, the value of which has been thoroughly demonstrated by actual use during the preceding year.” Past awardees include Orville Wright, Chuck Yeager, the Mercury Seven Astronauts, and Dick Rutan. The trophy is on permanent display at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.
Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System (AGCAS) Team
In 2006, the newly formed Defense Safety Oversight Council (DSOC) partnered with the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) in an effort to reduce fighter/attack aircraft ground and mid-air collisions though Automatic Collision Avoidance Technology (ACAT).
Controlled Flight into Terrain, more commonly called CFIT, is the leading killer in fighter aviation. CFIT can be caused by target fixation, distraction, g-induced loss of consciousness, or spatial disorientation. AGCAS prevents CFIT through complex algorithms and a digital terrain database. When the system determines a crash is imminent, it takes control of the aircraft, rolls to wings level, and begins a 5g pull until terrain is cleared. By 2010, the team had developed and successfully flight-tested an AGCAS for the F-16 and the USAF decided to field the system on its 600-jet, Block 40/50 F-16 fleet.
Since going operational in 2014, the F-16 AGCAS has been credited with saving seven aircraft and eight pilots. Taking note, the F-35 community followed suit and elected to accelerate AGCAS fielding on the Lightning. In 10 months, the AGCAS was flying and was nearly flawless in flight test.
DCS and IST continue to support the ACAT Team, DSOC, and AFRL, as the effort has expanded to include automatic air collision avoidance systems, integrated ground/air collision avoidance systems, and programs to explore AGCAS integration for other Services, large aircraft, such as the C-130, and UAVs.
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