1553 Bus Basics


If you’re in the avionics industry or know anything about high-performance flight modules or test and simulation modules, it’s likely that you know a little bit about the MIL-STD-1553. Whether you work in the defense or commercial aerospace industries, you understand the importance of technologically capable and reliable embedded solutions, databus analyzers, and support systems, all area in which the 1553 Bus exceeds expectations.

Although the field of avionics can utilize a lot of jargon and seem hard to understand for the typical consumer, it can be broken down into slightly easier elements for the average reader with an avid interest in aerospace.

What is MIL-STD-1553?
The MIL-STD-1553 is a military standard that defines the electrical, mechanical, and functional characteristics of a serial data bus. It is published by the United States Department of Defense. Although it was initially designed for use in military avionics, it has become commonly used in spacecraft on-board data handling subsystems, for both the military and civil industries. It contains advanced features and unparalleled functionality that can support the most demanding tests and simulation applications. There are many different models with different form factors, channels, coupling, and additional features.

A Brief History
MIL-STD-1553 was initially published in 1973 as a U.S. Air Force standard. It was first used on the F-16 Falcon fighter aircraft. It soon was used on newer aircraft designs, including the AH-64 Apace, F-18 Hornet, P-3C Orion, F-20 Tigershark, and the F-15 Eagle. Today it is now widely used by all branches of the U.S. military and has even been adopted by NATO as STANAG 3838 AVS. Recently, IEEE 1394 has replaced it in some new U.S. designs.

The design was honed throughout time, with the MIL-STD-1553B superseding the earlier MIL-STD-1553A revision. The basic difference between the revisions is that the 1553B defines the options in the system rather than letting them be defined by the user. Hardware and software have been consistently redesigned, with six significant changes since 1978.

Key Elements
Some of the key elements of the system are the 1553 Bus controller, the stand-alone remote terminal, the embedded remote terminal, and the bus monitor. The isolation couplers and twisted shielded pair wire data bus are optional.

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