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Rugged Storage Servers for Electronic Warfare: Helping an Aircrew Protect the Battlespace

About the Project

A major military prime tasked with integrating electronic warfare (EW) technologies into a U.S. Air Force armed aircraft program turned to Trenton Systems for a mission-critical rugged storage solution. These rugged rack mount servers would be responsible for processing and storing threat and environmental data collected by the aircraft, and in turn, become a vital part of its overall EW capabilities. This would allow the aircrew to both proactively and reactively defend against adversarial EW threats in real time, protecting the aircrew, aircraft, and critical ground forces below.

Trenton Systems has a rich history of building rugged servers for the military. From the very beginning, we knew this project was feasible.

A battlefield scene with soldiers and aircraft

The Problem

The rugged storage servers the prime needed had never been manufactured by Trenton before. Trenton would need to start from scratch with a never-before-seen server design tailored to fit the prime’s unique requirements, which consisted mainly of lots, and we mean lots, of lightning-fast, front-removable, hot-swappable solid-state drives, as well as a large-form-factor backplane with a minimum of eight x16 PCIe Gen 3 slots to support the prime’s expansion cards.

Thankfully, Trenton Systems specializes in customizing rugged computing solutions that are both unique and challenging. Indeed, this wasn’t our first rodeo. After a few conversations amongst our mechanical, electrical, and software engineers, and some elbow grease on the whiteboard, it became apparent that the storage servers would be an easy feat, and even become an appropriate solution for similar electronic warfare programs down the line.

The Goal

  • Equip the servers with enough drive capacity and compute power to process and store substantial amounts of threat and environmental data
  • Equip the servers’ host boards with compatible PCIe backplanes consisting of a minimum of eight x16 PCIe Gen 3 slots per backplane, more than enough for the prime’s expansion cards
  • Equip the servers with an adequate amount of ultra-fast Random-Access Memory (RAM) to smooth out system performance as it processes and stores considerable amounts of data
  • Equip the servers with a front-removable drive carrier for hot-swapping the drives at a moment’s notice
  • Equip the servers with the appropriate RAID storage controllers to achieve a high degree of fault tolerance and read-write speeds within the array
  • Ensure a ruggedized chassis design

The Challenge

These systems would need to be tested extensively by the prime to ensure absolute operational effectiveness. Should the systems fail, the lives of warfighters in the air and on the ground would be in jeopardy, as would millions of dollars in military air and ground assets. Trenton Systems understood the mission-critical nature of this program and agreed to the prime’s testing requirements. Throughout design, manufacture, assembly, integration, compliance testing, and support, our engineers took the serious nature of the program into consideration, every step of the way.

Oh, and did we mention that the prime needed to have these never-before-seen rugged storage solutions in-house for testing in just six weeks?

The Result

Trenton Systems devised what has since become its leading 5U rugged storage system: the TSS5201. The prime’s solution consisted of 48 front-facing, hot-swappable, 960GB solid-state drives, Intel® Xeon® E CPUs, 48GB of RAM, the two requested RAID storage controllers, and our 13-slot BPG8194 PCIe backplane, all situated nicely in a 5U ruggedized chassis.

Trenton Systems was also able to meet the prime’s strict lead time, and our fantastic support team answered the prime’s questions and provided necessary updates during the testing period. All in all, the military prime had everything they needed: rugged, high-performance servers with plenty of front-removable, hot-swappable drives and drive capacity, compute power, RAM, PCIe slots, and a chassis designed to withstand the world’s harshest conditions.

Trenton Systems was happy to support the armed aircraft's electronic warfare systems, which would go on to help the aircraft’s crew members proactively and reactively defend against adversarial EW threats in real time. The systems help protect the lives of countless warfighters and safeguard against millions of dollars worth of air and ground assets.

Many of our custom rugged computing solutions are currently at the heart of military programs just like this one. Our systems have been field-tested for success, and we’re happy to design a custom rugged computing solution for your program or application and work with you during testing. We even have a risk-free 45-Day Loaner Program, during which we’ll send you the custom solution for testing. If you don’t like it, you send it right back to us at no cost to you.

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*Due to strict non-disclosure agreements in place, we are prohibited from mentioning company and/or project names.

Trenton Systems Rugged Storage Servers for Military


"Overall the process was very easy. I have ordered 4 systems over the past few months. One system came in with a damage and you are working to get it repaired in as timely a process as can be done."


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