The Hughes-built Common Integrated Processor (CIP) is the 'brain' of the integrated avionics system – a system which has some unusual characteristics.
For instance, the F-22 has no radios, no navigation gear like TACAN or global positioning system or instrument landing system and no radar, in the traditional sense.
Rather than radar, the CIP, which is about the size of a oversized bread box, supports all signal and data processing for all sensors and mission avionics.
The CIP modules have the ability to emulate any of the electronic functions through automatic reprogramming. For example, if the CIP module that is acting as radio dies, one of the other modules will automatically reload the radio program and take over the radio function.
This approach to avionics makes the equipment extremely tolerant to combat damage as well as flexible from a design upgrade point of view.
The aircraft's avionics architecture remains flexible to accept future upgrades without having to design and retrofit new hardware to the fighter.
There are two CIPs in each F-22, with 66 module slots per CIP. They have identical backplanes and all of the F-22's processing requirements can be handled by only seven different types of processors. Currently, 19 of 66 slots in CIP 1 and 22 of 66 slots in CIP are open and available for expansion.
Each module is limited by design to only 75 percent of its capability, so the F-22 has 30 percent growth capability with no change to the existing equipment. There is space, power and cooling provisions in the aircraft now for a third CIP, so the requirement for a 200 percent avionics growth capability in the F-22 can be easily met.
There is coordinated plan for technology growth that will help keep the CIP at state-of-the-art levels. As electronics continue to get smaller and more powerful, it is conceivable that there could be 300 percent increase in avionics capability.