Military Embedded Systems

MOSA savings metrics needed


March 15, 2023

John McHale

Editorial Director

Military Embedded Systems

David Tremper, Director, Acquisition Integration and Interoperability, OUSD

While most leaders in the U. S. Department of Defense (DoD) understand the basic value of open architectures, they need to see metrics on already-realized cost and scheduled savings, said David Tremper, Director, Acquisition Integration and Interoperability, Office of the Undersecretary of Defense in his keynote address at the MOSA [Modular Open Systems Approach] Virtual Summit held February 22 and hosted by myself and Military Embedded Systems.

“Nobody argues the merits of open architectures,” he said. “What’s currently challenging the ability to start fist-pounding and say let’s apply that here and let’s apply that there is that I don’t think department leadership is hearing the message about what’s been realized in cost and scheduled savings for the department.”

Department leadership needs to start seeing examples of savings of $20 million or savings of 16 months of development timeline because an open architecture was used, Tremper continued. “[Until then] we’re going to be hard-pressed to really see change that starts enforcing these things in system development.”

This is a profound opportunity for the community to start collecting those “quantifiable metrics of value-added” and sharing them with DoD leadership, he added.

He listed feedback he heard directly from the Sensor Open System Architecture (SOSA) Technical Standard community illustrating these savings.

  • “The cost to generate a proposal has gone down 75%.”
  • “The reusable NRE compounds, creating billions in savings when tens of companies apply SOSA across multiple programs.”
  • “High TRL [technology readiness level] system that used to take us 24 months to build is now available in under six months.”
  • “The new funding we get is going toward new capability development, not platform integration.”

Tremper also noted how SOSA has enabled small businesses an opportunity to develop technology for the defense industry.

“Small businesses with niche capability have had a hard time getting into bigger acquisition programs because they were not part of the prime community. [Now putting the] government in a position where it can bring in a third-party integration of hardware and software is profoundly important for small-business insertion into big acquisition.”

Even with the metrics there are still doubts, misconceptions, and red herrings about open architectures that program managers and senior department leaders – “who may not be the technical experts” – need to be educated on so that they are not dissuaded by them, Tremper said.

Some examples of the red herrings (which he also called “flaming arrows”) are:

  • “They don’t support my legacy requirements.”
  • “The system design will be more expensive so there will be no overall cost savings.”
  • “It’s not mature enough to do my application.”
  • “As soon as the standards change, we’ll be obsolete.”

“These comments come up all the time within the Pentagon when we’re talking about open architectures,” Tremper said.

Tremper called for open architecture advocates to be clear and proactive when addressing these red herrings so that when a senior program manager “is attempting to make a decision and some naysayer comes along and says you can’t do that because it’s not mature enough, that the program manager or senior leader is armed to defend against that.”

Tremper also delved into inflection points he found in DoD electronic warfare (EW) acquisition efforts that showed a profound need for MOSA strategies. To hear his entire presentation, register here to watch it on demand.

Following Tremper’s Summit keynote, the summit sessions covered: the Future Airborne Capability Environment (FACE) Technical Standard, the Navy’s Hardware Open System Technology (HOST) standard, how MOSA is applied to crewed and uncrewed aviation platforms, C5ISR, EW systems, and other applications.

Our speakers included Alicia Taylor, Future Airborne Capability Environment (FACE) Consortium Program Director, The Open Group; Chip Downing, Senior Market Development Director, Aerospace & Defense, Real-Time Innovations (RTI); Alex Wilson, Director, A&D Industry Solutions, Wind River; Rodger Hosking, Director of Sales, Mercury Systems, Saddle River, New Jersey; Ken Grob, Director of Embedded Computing Architectures, Elma Electronic; Nigel Forrester, Director of Strategy, Concurrent Technologies; Noah Donaldson, Chief Technical Officer, Annapolis Micro Systems; Lt. Cmdr. Ryan Camasso, Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) Avionics Architecture Team (AAT) military lead and PMA-209 Deputy Program Manager; and Sean McCormick, Lead Engineer, NAVAIR PMA-209 Avionics Architecture Team.