Military Embedded Systems

Covering open standards


October 11, 2019

John McHale

Editorial Director

Military Embedded Systems

This headline pretty much sums of much of what we cover and have covered since our first issue. We’ve focused on how open standards have driven open architectures in military systems, whether they are using commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) products or not.

The defense budget cuts of a few years ago also drove the DoD to embrace more commonality in an effort to reduce long-term life cycle costs on systems’ front and back end. To accomplish this, open standards had to be embraced in open architecture designs that enabled shorter and less-costly technology refresh cycles.

That brings us to the Future Airborne Capability Environment (FACE) and Sensor Open Systems Architecture (SOSA) consortia, both run by the Open Group for the Air Force, Army, and Navy. Membership in each consortium consists of the services, prime contractors, and system integrators as well as embedded-system suppliers. All are working together to enable more commonality and reduce the cost of future military systems and drive heightened capability to the warfighter.

The FACE Consortium has most recently released the FACE Technical Standard 3.0, while the SOSA Consortium is working toward the release of its first standard. Much of the progress from both was showcased at the U.S. Air Force-hosted FACE & SOSA Expo and Technical Interchange Meeting (TIM) event, held in Dayton, Ohio this September.

We provide extensive coverage on the event starting on page 34 of this issue, with roundtables on FACE and SOSA, respectively, as well as membership lists and coverage of the event itself and its key presentations.

This issue’s coverage continues the work we’ve been doing to provide the latest developments on SOSA and FACE, which includes the recent 3-part article, “Development of the next-generation OpenVPX-based embedded system standard – A tri-service convergence of approaches,” by Mike Hackert, program sponsor at NAVAIR [Naval Air Systems Command], Ben Peddicord, chief of Combat Capabilities Development Command (CCDC) C5ISR Center, and Dr. Ilya Lipkin, lead manager for SOSA at the AFLCMC [Air Force Life Cycle Management Center].

Going forward, we will be doing more of the same, working with The Open Group and the outreach organizations for each consortium to deliver updates throughout 2020 and beyond.

This is not a new area for OpenSystems Media, as our company was founded on providing information on open standards to help design engineers in the military, aerospace, industrial, automotive, IoT, and other markets do their jobs. The first OSM publication was VMEBus Magazine, launched more than three decades ago, and still published today as VITA Technologies magazine that we produce with VITA. We have undertaken similar efforts with the PICMG and PC/104 organizations, with PICMG Systems and Technology and PC/104 and Small Form Factors publications, respectively.

Were we ahead of the game in covering these topics? Hard to say, but we’ve been there since the beginning and will continue to be there, as our FACE and SOSA coverage this issue demonstrates.

Open standards and open architectures are the present and future of military electronics development. Without them, new platforms will be too expensive to procure and capability will make its way to the warfighter much too slowly to be useful at all against an ever-more-sophisticated adversary.

“Standards create markets,” Chip Downing, Senior Market Development Director, Aerospace & Defense at RTI and Chair, FACE Consortium Outreach Subcommittee, told me during the TIM event. “The use of open standards with a competitive supply chain can reduce cost and risk and accelerate products and solutions to markets.” For more from Downing, see our FACE roundtable on page 36 and read his thoughts in our Mil Tech Trends section in an article titled “Virtualization improves efficiency of legacy military embedded systems,” written by Senior Editor Sally Cole, on page 20.

Find our SOSA roundtable on page 40; one of our participants, Mark Grovak, Director, Avionics Business Development, at Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions, covers the consortias’ work in his Mil Tech Insider column on page 10.

SOSA members also discuss trends in signal processing for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance applications in our Special Report, “ISR signal processing at the edge,” by Associate Editor Emma Helfrich, on page 14.

In our upcoming November/December issue, we also dedicate our Industry Spotlight section to the latest in open standards development, with articles from industry contributors.

Hey, like I said … we cover standards.