Tech Brief: Beyond VMEbus: Bringing commercial concepts to the military market

Deployability and life-cycle management of large and disparate collections of weapons, combat and C4ISR computing systems is one of the most critical challenges facing the Department of Defense (DoD) today. Numerous defense programs, each defining separate, and oftentimes unique system architectures, configurations, and compositions, result in a wide range of processing and control systems that create complexity and drive excessive lifecycle costs.

Although serious efforts have been made to standardize on a set of common hardware solutions such as NAVSEA Acoustic Rapid COTS Insertion (A-RCI); Common Processing (CPS) and Common Display Systems (CDS), that limited commonality has not extended across any one ship, let alone an entire fleet. This lack of a truly common modular infrastructure has led to:

  • Difficult, asynchronous technology insertion cycles and delayed modernization due to expensive, time-consuming integration and shipboard industrial work;
  • 2DMS/MS-driven logistics that lead to the purchase of inefficient, obsolete, end-of-life products;
  • Non-uniform system administration and management creating unnecessary complexity;
  • Failure to achieve broad-based economies of scale due to small quantity purchases and a variety of “spares.”

These challenges not only make it difficult to upgrade to the latest technology, but may also limit the government’s ability to repurpose used – but still viable – equipment that may have residual value to other programs with less funding. If the DoD is to get on, and stay on the commercial technology cam, current efforts to standardize common hardware platforms must be accelerated. What is needed is a standardized, Modular Open Systems Architecture (MOSA) compliant architecture that is at once scalable, extensible, serviceable and available.

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