White Papers

Leveraging Modular Open System Architecture for Modified COTS

December 14, 2015 | BY: Mike Southworth

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Military and aerospace systems integrators face mounting pressure to reduce Size, Weight, Power and Cost (SWaP-C) for vehicle and aircraft electronics. They must also meet aggressive delivery schedules and integrate open architecture Commercial Off the Shelf (COTS) products to reduce or eliminate Non-Recurring Engineering (NRE) cost. Typically, military and civil ground vehicle and aircraft platforms also have unique technical and platform requirements that make finding a suitable COTS computing solution to meet 100% of their requirements very unlikely. This white paper discusses how leveraging Modular Open System Architecture (MOSA) design and Modified COTS (MCOTS) application engineering services for Small Form Factor (SFF) rugged mission systems can help integrators meet their cost, schedule, quality, and technical requirements, while reducing risk and eliminating traditional NRE fees.

Modular Open Systems Architecture

Motivated by budget constraints and the increased need for technology readiness, many defense leaders have pushed for supply chain acquisition reform, moving away from silo-based development and instead mandating the use of Modular COTS (as opposed to custom) based open systems architectures. In recent times, military services have been directed to seek out “80% solutions that can be produced on time, on budget and in significant numbers.” This is a shift away from the “99% exquisite” solution of yesteryear that cost too much, took too long to develop and was built in only small volumes.

To facilitate this COTS vision, various defense ministries and the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) have directed their agencies to use open systems specifications and standards for the basis of their design strategies. The U.S. DoD’s Open System Architecture (OSA) initiative (formerly known as Modular Open Systems Architecture) has just such an objective—to leverage modular designs and widely supported and consensus-based standards for key interfaces to increase the chance that future systems changes will be integrated in a cost-effective manner. Some of the related initiatives include VICTORY (Vehicle Integration for C4ISR/EW Interoperability), GVA (Generic Vehicle Architecture), Future Airborne Compatibility Environment (FACE), and Better Buying Power 3.0. Ultimately, a common desired outcome from these programs is for program managers to design interoperability into future C4ISR (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) systems - without adding proprietary or duplicative devices that add undesired weight and cost to the system and make upgrades more challenging.

Read about:

  • COTS vs MCOTS Mission Processors
  • Modified COTS (MCOTS)& MCOTS Design
  • MCOTS Case Study: ISR Video Mission Processor


Mike Southworth

Author’s Biography

Mike Southworth

Senior Product Manager

Mike Southworth serves as Senior Product Manager for Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions where he is responsible for the small form-factor rugged mission computers and Ethernet networking subsystem product line targeting Size, Weight, and Power (SWaP)-constrained military and aerospace applications. Southworth has more than 15 years of experience in technical product management and marketing communications leadership roles. Mike holds an MBA from the University of Utah and a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations from Brigham Young University.

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