obsolete. But making choices can be challenging, he says, because people are swayed by technology and the “bright, shiny new object.
The technological renaissance is providing a lot of options, and with all the technologies you could make a case for each one. But they cannot all be pursued. “The problem is that we can’t afford to buy everything so we have to make an assessment of capabilities and to make recommendations on capabilities that will have the greatest return on our investments.”
“The hardest part is trying to make sure that the people who are in love with their technologies understand what it is that they are in love with. It is difficult to convince people that, ‘Yes, it is a great capability, but is it greater than this other capability over here?’
“Everything we consider has to get a fair shake. There have been technologies that nobody liked that turned out to be pretty effective.” And at the end of the day, when the Marines are kicking in the door, those technologies could make all the difference.
“We’re really quite satisfied with what’s going on there for the Marine Corps. The service pushes for “projects that tend to be more practical, more physical. One promising program is the FVL platform.
When Future Vertical Lift systems enter Army service, new drones and high-speed helicopters won’t be the only things flying through the air. Linking the FVL aircraft will be an invisible network, transmitting data directly from one machine to the next, without the clumsy, slow-moving intermediary of human voices
over the radio or human hands on a keyboard.
This Modular Open Systems Architecture will be essential to FVL’s performance across the board, from combat to maintenance to long-term upgrades.
“Probably one of the hardest things we’re going to do is affordability. Because military systems have to serve for decades, the really big bill here isn’t procurement, it’s long-term maintenance, sustainment, and upgrades to keep the aircraft not only functional but up to date.
Replacing worn-out or obsolete components with new and better ones adds up tremendously over the years. As with other weapons system platforms, percent of our total cost of ownership is the sustainment of the fleet.”
The Army’s worked hard to control those costs with its current fleet of aircraft. But there are hard limits on how efficient you can become when different types of aircraft – and even aircraft of
the same type built at different times – use different electronics, none of which were built with ease of maintenance and upgrades in mind.
Most components don’t have built-in diagnostic chips the way a modern automobile does, for instance, so the only way to check whether they’re working is to unscrew an access hatch and look inside. If something is broken or just out of date, then swapping a single part, even something as simple as a cockpit display, may require laboriously rewriting code on several other systems that interact with it.
“In our current systems, Army Aviation has done a phenomenal job of leading the Army on condition-based maintenance. We are pretty far out there about collecting data and knowing when something is going to fail.”
Using diagnostics this way allows repair crews to intervene when needed, instead of either waiting for a problem to become obvious – which means problems become more dangerous and expensive to fix – or conducting laborious preventive maintenance just-in-case – which consumes countless man-hours of highly trained ground crews.
“However, we did that by platform, and each individual platform uses a different system to be able to do that. As we move forward, the intent is to go ahead and make sure that we have a common platform for condition-based maintenance. We think this will fundamentally change how maintenance is done… which will ultimately drive down cost.”
Those common maintenance diagnostics will be built into the Modular Open System Architecture. Rather than prescribe to contractors how to do it or let each contractor come up with their own, incompatible proprietary solution, the Army will dictate common standards and interfaces, made available to all – ie “open.” That should allow the military to replace a piece of code from one vendor with better code from another, without having to rewrite the rest of the system – this means “modular.”
“In the draft documents… we have put the hooks in there to make sure that industry knows that that is going to be a requirement. When we send out the proposals to industry, we will direct that certain things be common as far as condition-based maintenance is concerned: what they measure, how they measure it, how the ones to zeros are holding, so that the unit…can get that same data, regardless of whether they’re looking at FARA, FLRAA, or one of our enduring systems.”
The Army hopes to backfit at least parts of MOSA onto its existing helicopter fleets, which will serve for decades to come, with the FVL aircraft replacing them over time. Whenever possible, it will upgrade different types of existing aircraft in ways that make them more compatible and use more common systems. But it’s with FVL that MOSA will fully come into its own.
The Army’s determined to enforce common standards and common software in a way it never has before. The number one challenge we have with MOSA is … that discipline and management. “What allowed the enduring fleet of aircraft to wind up with different architectures because there was not a driving central body that said, ‘this is the architecture that you are going to go with.’… With MOSA, we have that.”
“It really comes down to defining that DoD standard, and defining that DoD interphase, and then … holding to it. The PEO has led the charge with the architecture control working group, meeting quarterly, with industry participating.”
Getting MOSA to work is a literal essential to the success of the mission. It won’t just transmit maintenance data, helping forestall breakdowns and prevent accidents. It will also transmit tactical data, helping manned and unmanned FVL aircraft coordinate with each other in combat.
“That system architecture has open systems, interfaces, and gateways, so we can push data” seamlessly across the force, without incompatible systems on different aircraft stopping the flow of information. “We’re refining our data formats to auto-populate nine-lines i.e. calls for urgent evacuation, calls for fires i.e. artillery and air strikes, our production,
exploitation and dissemination of intelligence.”
How soon will elements of this system become available to soldiers? It will enter service before the manned FVL aircraft do. The FVL modernization team is working with their counterparts for the Army network. They’ll field new data-sharing systems as part of the 2023 upgrade, known as Capability Set 23.
But that will just be the beginning of a multi-year effort to build Army aviation’s invisible, digital backbone.
Computations that must be spread out across the entire data set—like finding an average or doing a statistical analysis—must be split up into subjobs, spread out across all of the nodes, and then aggregated when it’s done
Here we introduce a conceptual, yet quantifiable, architecture framework by extending the notion of system modularity in its broadest sense.
Acknowledging that modularity is not a binary feature and comes in various types and levels,
the proposed framework introduces higher levels of modularity that naturally incorporate decentralized architecture on the one hand and autonomy in agents and subsystems on the other.
This makes the framework suitable for modularity decisions in Systems of Systems and for analyzing the impact of modularity on broader surroundings. The stages of modularity in the proposed framework are naturally aligned with the level of variations and uncertainty in the system and its environment, a relationship that is central to the benefits of modularity.
The conceptual framework is complemented with a decision layer that makes it suitable to be used as a computational architecture decision tool to determine the appropriate stage and level of modularity of a system, for a given profile of variations and uncertainties in its environment
The fundamental systemic driving forces and trade-offs of moving from monolithic to distributed architecture are essentially similar to those for moving from integral to modular architectures.
The spectrum, in conjunction with the decision layer, could guide system architects when selecting appropriate parameters and building a system-specific computational tool from a combination of existing tools and techniques.
Environment/Threat Simulation: The ability to create, generate, or replicate ideal, distorted, or “real-life” signals is essential in the design, testing, and operation of electronic warfare and avionics systems.
Building a threat environment involves making or recreating a lifelike radio signal as precisely as possible. This can be especially challenging, because most solutions compromise speed, bandwidth, signal fidelity, and memory.
However, next-generation arbitrary waveform generators are now coming on the market that enable much easier generation of complex signals than in the past.
To apply open standards, you begin at the chassis level, develop the common backplane interfaces, and then move toward replacing modules. Developing commonality at that level will take time, but the military customers are discussing that path in order to align to those goals.
1. New applications that need to be built quickly
2. Enterprise or business applications that need to mirror traditional network departments and processes
3. Teams with inexperienced developers who don’t understand other architectures yet
4. Applications requiring strict maintainability and testability standards
5. Asynchronous systems with asynchronous data flow
6. Individual data blocks interact with only a few of the many modules
7. Tools used by a wide variety of people
8. Clear division between basic routines and higher order rules
9. Fixed set of core routines and a dynamic set of rules that must be updated frequently
10. Development teams that are spread out, often across the globe