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Addressing Power Management Challenges on Military Aircraft and Ground Vehicles with Solid-State Power Controllers

The rapid growth in electronic system complexity on military platforms presents challenges for developers in the areas of electrical power distribution, load management, status monitoring, safety, and reliability. It has become difficult for traditional methods of power distribution, based on discrete electromechanical devices, to keep pace with growing system complexity, while meeting strict size and weight limitations. These challenges are magnified by the need for sophisticated power management policies such as load shedding, redundancy, and power sequencing.

The use of Solid-State Power Controllers (SSPCs), to address these power management challenges, has grown rapidly in recent years. In addition to the inherent improvement in reliability provided, which stems from the solid-state implementation, SSPCs also provide significant size and weight savings due to their high-degree of integration. This integrated approach includes embedded controllers, which provide network control of loads and access to load telemetry data such as status, voltage and current. The controller also provides for programmability of the SSPC, such as current trip thresholds and grouping of output channels to handle high-current loads. Programmed settings are then saved in non-volatile memory for normal operation.