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Avionics is a portmanteau of "aviation" and "electronics". It comprises electronic systems for use on aircraft, artificial satellites and spacecraft, comprising communications, navigation and the display and management of multiple systems. It also includes the hundreds of systems that are fitted to aircraft to meet individual roles, these can be as simple as a search light for a police helicopter or as complicated as the tactical system for an Airborne Early Warning platform.



The term avionics was not in general use until the early 1970s. Up to this point instruments, radios, radar, fuel systems, engine controls and radio navigation aids had formed individual (and often mechanical) systems.

In the 1970s, avionics was born, driven by military need rather than civil airliner development. Military aircraft had become flying sensor platforms, and making large amounts of electronic equipment work together had become the new challenge. Today, avionics as used in military aircraft almost always forms the biggest part of any development budget. Aircraft like the F-15E and the now retired F-14 have roughly 80 percent of their budget spent on avionics. Most modern helicopters now have budget splits of 60/40 in favour of avionics. (F-22?)

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