DDC-I, Northrop Grumman Migrate KC-135 Ada Tools

DDC-I, a leading supplier of development tools for safety-critical applications, announced that it has been selected by Northrop Grumman to help migrate the KC-135′s Ada software development environment from a VAX/VMS to a PC/Windows XP host. The change in host environment will greatly reduce the cost associated with providing fielded support for the KC-135′s Ada code.

“The TADS-i960 provides a very stabile i960 Ada development environment for the KC-135,” said Bob Morris, president and CEO of DDC-I. “But maintaining Ada code on aging and obsolete VAX systems becomes more expensive every year. With the KC-135 expected to continue flying for at least another decade, a change in host systems was inevitable. After we completed a migration risk assessment, Northrop Grumman decided that it would be more cost effective to move to a Windows XP environment.”

The KC-135 is a swept-wing, high-altitude, high-speed jet transport whose primary mission is refueling strategic long-range bombers. The KC-135 can haul 83,000 pounds of cargo, airlift up to 80 passengers, or carry 202,800 pounds of JP-4 jet fuel, most of which is transferable for global refueling missions.

Northrop Grumman currently uses DDC-I’s TADS-i960 Ada development environment to develop and maintain code for the KC-135′s Fuel Management Advisory Computer Program (FMAC). The FMAC gauges fuel level, both inside and outside (for refueling) the aircraft. It also provides performance calculations for takeoffs, landings (such as center of gravity and optimal landing/takeoff speed) and navigation using a variety of data, such as environmental and runway conditions.

The FMAC is implemented using a custom module equipped with redundant i960 processors. The FMAC Ada application code that runs on each processor is deployed on a bare board Ada run-time system provided by DDC-I. The application code was developed using a TADS-i960 development environment and Ada compiler hosted on a VAX/VMS system.

Northrop Grumman, upon inheriting the original FMAC code and development tools, decided that they could simplify maintenance and reduce ongoing maintenance costs by moving the tools and code to a PC development host running Windows XP. Complicating this migration, however, was the fact that the code and set up were not well documented. So, at Northrop Grumman’s request, DDC-I performed an on-site assessment of the Ada software and libraries. Ultimately, DDC-I was able to unravel the mystery behind many of the libraries, including their origin and how to re-build them.

With DDC-I’s assistance, Northrop Grumman now has the capability to completely rebuild its libraries from scratch. DDC-I also helped Northrop Grumman complete an initial build of its Ada and assembler files and resolve many other issues that would have otherwise taken much longer to resolve. Ultimately, with DDC-I’s assistance, Northrop Grumman was able to successfully port the software to the new development platform with minimal problems. The port went much smoother than originally anticipated due to DDC-I’s support.

More on the TADS-i960
The TADS-i960 provides a comprehensive environment for developing, compiling and debugging Ada applications for the i960 processor. The TADS-i960 compiler is optimized for the i960 processor, leveraging special-purpose i960 instructions such as branch-and-link and instruction scheduling. The compiler also provides Ada-specific optimizations such as constraint and overflow check elimination, parameter binding, data packing, and static aggregrates initialization.

The TADS-i960 debugger provides point-and-click, multi-window symbolic debugging at both the Ada source and assembly language level. The debugger displays key program information such as command execution, source code, program I/O, scoreboarding of automatically updated data, disassembled machine code, interspersed source/assembly code, and on-line help. It also features full tasking and exception support, and dynamic code patching for executing programs.

The TADS-i960 run-time system provides real-time multitasking with priority-driven, pre-emptive scheduling. The run-time system also provides a rendezvous accelerator and supports multiple options for handling interrupts, including attachment to task entries, Ada procedures, and assembly routines.

About DDC-I, Inc.
DDC-I, Inc. is a global supplier of software development tools, custom software development services, and legacy software system modernization solutions, with a primary focus on safety-critical applications. DDC-I’s customer base is an impressive “who’s who” in the commercial, military, aerospace, and safety-critical industries. DDC-I offers compilers, integrated development environments and run-time systems for C, Embedded C++, Ada, JOVIAL and FORTRAN application development.