Military Embedded Systems

Common MOSA, SOSA 2.0 Snapshot 2


March 27, 2024

John McHale

Editorial Director

Military Embedded Systems

Common MOSA, SOSA 2.0 Snapshot 2

While it was officially released in the famous Dept. of Defense Tri-Service Memo five years ago, the concept of a modular open systems approach (MOSA) has been around for some time and is not a new concept, said Jason Dirner, in his keynote address at the MOSA [Modular Open Systems Approach] Virtual Summit held February 22 and hosted by myself and Military Embedded Systems. What is new, however, Dirner said, is “common MOSA, [where] you have multiple programs and services conforming to the same standard,” which enables a greater level of reuse and portability across the community.

MOSA has been used within a single program, where the modular architecture, key interfaces, etc. are defined, but the resulting solutions are specific to that program and have limited reuse across community.

Common MOSA strategies like the Sensor Open Systems Architecture (SOSA) Technical Standard, CMOSS [C5ISR/EW Modular Open Suite of Standards], and HOST [Hardware Open Systems Technologies], are actually more similar than they are different, Dirner says. They all want to increase competition, improve upgradeability and while they are separate efforts, “we are working together.”

This is especially true with SOSA, which has become a “standard melting pot, quickly becoming the de facto form to adopt and align government and industry standards to create a common DoD-wide open system architecture.” SOSA:

  • Enables reuse across services, agencies, and programs
  • Maximizes government investments
  • Capitalizes on collective expertise of over 160 member organizations

The services have been collaborating for the better part of a decade on these standards, he added, saying that he’s seen many examples of this, such as the Air Force using an Army chassis for prototyping and the situation in which “the Army can use an Air Force chassis and cards, and in a family of systems where one program leverages a card from another.

“If the Air force procures a capability and matches what the Army needs, why shouldn’t the Army be able to take it and integrate it? On the flip side, if a vendor gets a plug-in card included in program X now, they can get it included in program Y and Z as well. [This creates] new opportunities and new reuse that wasn’t possible before.”

In his presentation, Dirner referenced that the Technical Standard for SOSA Reference Architecture, Edition 2.0 (Snapshot 2) would be released any day; in fact, it was released the very next day.

Describing the latest release, Dirner noted some highlights: 

  • More support for EO/IR wide area search/surveillance
  • Nav Data Service adoption of VICTORY
  • Security Services definition (providing authentication and authorization infrastructure for the sensor)
  • Data model updates for EA, SIGINT, SAR, and EO/IR
  • MORA V2.5 and VICTORY V1.10

“The data model underpins everything we do in SOSA,” Dirner noted.

For more on Snapshot 2 and a preview of what will be in Snapshot 3, check out the MOSA Virtual Summit at MOSA Snapshot 3 will likely not be available until the later part of 2024. To learn about Snapshot 2, visit

As we ended the keynote session, I asked Dirner if he could share MOSA success stories and he replied with two. The first told how Army PM EW&C (Program Manager Electronic Warfare and Cyber) were early adopters of CMOSS. He said “I saw where they were able to pivot and change cards and share cards across programs, all of which would not have been possible if they had not used a common architecture.”

In the second story, he mentioned CMFF [Common Mounted Form factor), which was born out of CMOSS. Dirner noted that “CMFF will replace mission-command comms, PNT [position, navigation, and timing], and EA [electronic attack] solutions on ground and airborne platforms with a common chassis and has a potential huge impact on how we field these systems in terms of competition and upgradeability. Those are two great success stories to reference.”