Making CMOSS deployable: The rubber hits the road

The C4ISR/EW [electronic warfare] Modular Open Suite of Standards (CMOSS) is defined by the Combat Capabilities Development Command C5ISR (Command, Control, Computers, Communications, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance) Center. The suite of open architecture industry and U.S. Army standards included in CMOSS enables the reduction of C4ISR system size, weight, and power (SWaP) and facilitates commonality across multiple platforms by enabling the sharing of hardware and software components. The C5ISR Center is actively working with the military acquisition community to include CMOSS requirements in current and emerging programs. To ensure sustainment of the standards, C5ISR is actively participating in the associated standards bodies to address emerging requirements and technology.

Moreover, C5ISR is collaborating with other services to align open architecture activities and enable procurement of common hardware and capabilities. CMOSS has been included in the Sensor Open Systems Architecture (SOSA) effort and has been aligned with the Navy’s Hardware Open Systems Technologies (HOST).

The open standards currently included in CMOSS include the following: Vehicular Integration for C4ISR/EW Interoperability (VICTORY), which optimizes SWaP, enables platform systems to share information, and prepares platforms to accept future technologies without the need for significant redesign; Modular Open RF Architecture (MORA), which extends VICTORY to support radio frequency (RF) systems; OpenVPX, an open hardware standard maintained by the VITA industry working group and ratified as an ANSI standard; and software frameworks including REDHAWK/TOA, SALVAGE, X-Midas, and Photon (when suitable) intended to maximize portability of applications between hardware platforms.

CMOSS – demonstrated in the lab and prototype vehicle integrations environments – is now ready for deployment in the real world, where thermal management issues are much harder to control. In the lab and during prototype, thermal issues that result from combining multiple functionalities, previously housed in their own separate box into a single chassis, were relatively easy to deal with. The challenge now shifts to making it work while deployed.

The No. 1 issue is thermal: While it might seem that a simple approach for cooling a deployable CMOSS chassis would be to move the air by installing a fan, that solution is unfortunately not a cure-all. While fans work well in some environments, many ground vehicle and rotorcraft system designers find that the maintenance and reliability issues are too much of a burden. In the past, in the case of an urgent operational need, specific acquisition models have permitted the use of fans; going forward, as the CMOSS standard becomes widely adopted and mission capabilities are integrated more tightly with platforms, stricter operations and maintenance requirements will be applied to mission payloads.

On the issue of integrating a CMOSS solution onto a specific vehicle, the standard doesn’t provide direction. For example, it doesn’t define the specific equipment color standard of the box, the available connectors, or the unique integration requirements for a particular ground vehicle or rotorcraft. Deploying CMOSS on particular platforms will mean accommodating those unique requirements. Some constraints will be less critical – such as equipment color or placement of mounting holes – while other integration issues, such as thermal management in situations where moving air or providing a liquid cooling loop is unacceptable, will be higher hurdles.

The question then becomes how best to take a great standard and successfully deploy it in the real world. Ultimately, the task of delivering the system should be performed by those already expert in solving these types of integration problems. Thankfully, CMOSS is mature enough for system integrators to leverage the commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) community’s expertise in deploying high-performance electronics in harsh environments.

Absent the ability to cool the system actively via standard approaches (i.e., fan, cooling plate, air, liquid loop, etc.), designers need a new approach for implementing the system’s network and signal topology. For example, system designers can use proven ground vehicle thermal-management approaches for complex systems. (Figure 1.)

Figure 1 | Curtiss-Wright’s MPMC-6311 is an example of a deployable VPX system for ground-vehicle environments.

CMOSS represents significant new technical innovation that has been proven and demonstrated. The deployable CMOSS baton is now being passed on to industry. Integration experts can now step up. Taking the technical architecture and making it deployable up to standards that an Army vehicle prime contractor, program manager, and war­fighter would expect.

David Jedynak is Program Director, A-PNT Program Office, for Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions.

Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions www.curtisswrightds.com