Aerospace & Defense

Information Technology


Emerging Capabilities

VSM Developer Kit (VDK)

Our Vehicle Specific Module Developer Kit (VDK) is a necessary component to making an unmanned vehicle compatible with the NATO STANAG 4586 protocol. It is designed to walk a new developer through STANAG 4586 and the basics of writing a VSM to communicate with VCS-4586. This kit is composed of a Developer’s Guide, a STANAG 4586 Message Analyzer, VSM Simulator, sample code, and working demonstrations.


The main component of the VDK, the Developer’s Guide, is a document that details the rules of STANAG 4586 and breaks down the steps to creating and using a VSM. All VSMs must be compatible with STANAG 4586 as this message-based architecture and protocol is used by all NATO forces and allows for simultaneous control of multiple vehicles from a single Ground Control Station (GCS). In addition to that, operators can define the types of vehicle and payload control by selecting one of five different Level of Operability (LOI). Operators will have more manual control as the LOI increases. With the ability to choose the type of control for multiple vehicles and payloads, it helps NATO forces to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of their joint operations, flexibility, and training. However, to achieve this simultaneous control, all the vehicles must use the language of STANAG 4586.


Since all vehicles comes equipped with its own language, the VSM helps to translate STANAG 4586 messages into ones that can be interpreted by the vehicle and vice versa. The VSM can reside on the hardware of the CUCS, hardware external to the CUCS, or on the vehicle itself. When VCS-4586 on the GCS sends orders or instructions to a vehicle, a STANAG 4586 message is packaged using User Datagram Protocol (UDP) and sent via an IP network where the vehicle’s VSM will receive it. The message will be translated into one that a vehicle will understand, thereby allowing it to execute the order. The VSM will translate messages from both sides, to and from the CUCS or vehicle. When the CUCS sends a message to the vehicle, it is known as a command or an uplink message. If it is the other way around, from the vehicle to the CUCS, it is called a report, status, or a downlink message. These uplink and downlink messages can be recorded by another component of the VDK, the STANAG Message Analyzer. This is a protocol analyzer software tool for STANAG 4586 messages. It will record and parse the contents of messages and make it possible for VSM integration.


The sample codes and working demonstrations are provided in the VDK as an example for new developers to refer to when building their own VSM. It will demonstrate that the first step to create a VSM is to make it discoverable by VCS-4586. Once the VSM is on the network, VCS-4586 will send a message into the network and find all the VSMs available on the network. Once the VSM gives an approval response back to the requesting VCS-4586, the connection is established. Through configuration, the VSM will then pass on all the information it has regarding the vehicle or payload’s characteristics, capabilities, and physical limits prior to achieving the ability to control it. An operator also has to ability to unconfigure or disconnect the connection and return VCS-4586 to its original state without restarting the software. Once control has been established, the VSM takes over full time as a translator for oncoming uplink and downlink messages. To ensure that the connection is successfully working between the VSM and VCS-4586, periodic messages are sent at regular intervals as an up-to-date status report from the VSM to VCS-4586. This guarantees that the information displayed to the operator is the most current. An example of a report would be a display of the current altitude as well as the commanded altitude of a vehicle.

All this can also be done without flying an actual vehicle by using the last component of the VDK, the VSM Simulator, a tool that can provide a realistic simulation of vehicle or payload VSMs and GDTs. Operators also have the ability to release control of a VSM and its vehicle to hand control over to another GCSS.

System Requirements

VCS-4586 is configured to operate effectively on a variety of PC-based hardware configurations. Supported operating systems include Linux, Solaris (SPARC hardware only), and Windows.


Software Delivery

All of our software packages, licenses, and documentation are delivered electronically through our secure customer portal. Once all required legal documentation and accounting related matters are processed, unique login credentials are provided along with the URL to the customer portal. A hard-copy can also be provided.