The Department of Defense's Immediate Need for open Systems Architecture

The Department of Defense's Immediate Need for open Systems Architecture

The modern battlespace is more lethal and disruptive than ever, requiring exponential increases in speed and agility to meet warfighter capability demands. In order to remain dominant amid an evolving security environment, the U.S. Department of Defense needs technologically superior capabilities that are delivered faster than ever and are successfully integrated across multiple systems and platforms.

That’s why the DoD is requiring many of its new programs use non-proprietary software that ensures its technology works across the military services. Open systems architectures, or OSAs, use common standards and common parts so that customers can seamlessly replace or update components from a myriad of vendors without having to rebuild the technology from the ground up.

Under the open systems architecture model, the DoD avoids vendor lock, acquires capabilities faster and has the flexibility to mix and match components from different vendors.The DoD can make selections based on the price point and functionality of systems that match their needs. The model also supports third-party vendor participation, allowing for the best-in-class available capability to be selected. This facilitates competition while also spurring innovation, agility and affordability.

Not only will it enable an agile acquisition process, but OSA will also ensure cross-service and cross-domain capabilities. These capabilities are revolutionizing and invigorating one of the DoD’s top priorities: multi-domain operations, which is a joint warfighting concept to help the U.S. military defeat highly capable near-peer adversaries.

Open systems architecture and interoperability enable technologies and solutions across the battlespace in the skies, land, sea, space and cyberspace, to all talk to one another. The reason being that no matter the domain, the systems will speak the same language through common interfaces and standards.

This digital paradigm has picked up sweeping momentum as organizations are accelerating the adoption of OSA.

Boots on the ground

Military leadership have touted the need for organizations to adopt, incorporate and expand OSA for existing and next-generation technologies.

Open systems architecture and interoperability enable technologies and solutions across the battlespace in the skies, land, sea, space and cyberspace, to all talk to one another

The first step: Take a seat at the table and collaborate with government, industry and academia to develop standards that balance stakeholder interests.

For example, Raytheon Intelligence & Space has several open system architecture programs operating in a consortium environment that reflects the shift toward more open systems architecture in defense and aerospace. The team actively contributes to the governance process, which enables stakeholders to shape the standards along side other industry partners while working hand-in-hand with the government to continuously refine standards.

These architectures include the Common Open Architecture Radar Program specification (COARPs) for multi-function, multi-spectral, multi-domain subsystems; Open Mission Systems (OMS) for multi-domain platform mission systems and Sensor Open Systems Architecture (SOSA) for hardware modular architecture; among others. These architectures are mature enough right now that large and small organizations can start making investments to develop solutions that are aligned to the standards.

Most recently, RI&S designed, demonstrated, and delivered COARPS radar processor subsystems, built to OSA standards, in support of multiple DoD customers. In addition, RI&S delivered mode development kits to third-party vendors in order to initiate and accelerate innovation for capabilities within the COARPS open architecture community.

No need to recreate the wheel

When one team in an organization has already adopted OSA and gained the technological know-how and proficiency, then other teams across the organization can tap their expertise to accelerate OSA adoption.

For example, a team of experts within Raytheon Intelligence & Space’s Future Aircraft Systems & Technology product area who are skilled in OSA standards and processors became leaders and advisers to spur OSA adoption across the company. These experts are deployed to aid in startup, planning and execution of programs. This ensures that the guiding principles of OSA permeate the products and the culture of the company.

To best support these new open architectures, companies should establish a center of excellence within the organization mandated to accelerate OSA adoption. This will ultimately support customers’ missions and bolster the United States’ warfighting edge with the speed and agility required of the evolving battlespace.

By committing to maintain open architecture-based product design, industry leaders will enable a seismic shift in the acquisition, operation and sustainment of advanced technology. Driving down non-recurring costs by developing once and deploying software or hardware to multiple programs is a model of the efficiency we need. OSA will benefit long term as well, offering sustained competition and options to avoid obsolescence through the life of a system.


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