Multivendor interoperability is real: The TSOA Interoperability Demo

On January 29, 2020, the first Tri-Service Open Architecture Interoperability Demonstration (TSOA-ID) was held in Atlanta, Georgia, hosted by Georgia Research Tech Institute at its Conference Center. The event was attended by nearly 300 representatives of government, industry, and academia, and was supported by the U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force. The sponsors of the event were Naval Air Systems Command, Program Executive Office Aviation, COEVCOM C5ISR Center, and Air Force LCMC.

The importance of the TSOA-ID was reflected in the presentations by the distinguished keynote speakers: Randall G. Walden, Member of the Senior Executive Service, Director and Program Executive Officer for the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office; and Col. Nickolas Kioutas, Project Manager for Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PM PNT) at PEO IEW&S. Walden spoke on “Rapid Acquisition Perspectives,” providing an overview of how open system architectures can be leveraged to speed the delivery of new capabilities to the warfighter. Col. Kioutas spoke on “Standards as a Strategic Capability” and discussed his vision for how CMOSS (C4ISR/EW Modular Open Suite of Standards) – which is being included in and managed under the Sensor Open Systems Architecture (SOSA) initiative with Army, Air Force, and Navy participation – can reduce integration costs and risks, mitigate obsolescence facilitate interoperability and reuse, and accelerate the fielding and delivery of Assured PNT solutions to the warfighter.

The event included Open Systems Realization demonstrations by three leading COTS [commercial off-the-shelf] solutions vendors: Elma Electronic, Curtiss-Wright, and Leonardo DRS. These demos highlighted the greater maturity and wider acceptance of open architectures, such as FACE [Future Airborne Capability Environment], HOST [Hardware Open Systems Technologies], SOSA, and CMOSS and how the use of these standards has improved interoperability, significantly reducing the time needed to integrate hardware and software applications from different vendors.

One of the demos featured an artificial intelligence (AI)-based solution for ISR/EW situational awareness and high-speed Type 1 certification-ready top-secret data encryption. This demonstration strongly underlined the benefits resulting from the open systems architecture (OSA) approach by rapidly and easily integrating hardware and applications from four individual companies. The demo, which featured AI-based COTS solutions for signal intelligence (SIGINT) and EW situational awareness applications, showed a deployable solution for RF spectrum situational awareness that automatically classifies signals through the use of machine learning.

The system also demonstrated certification-ready NSA Type 1 data encryption of ISR data at a read/write throughput of 10/17 Gbps (nominal/maximum) per data channel, providing system designers with an unprecedented combination of high-speed data recording and secure encryption.

OSA COTS hardware used in the demonstration included Curtiss-Wright’s 3U OpenVPX CHAMP-XD1 digital signal processing (DSP) module, VPX3-1260 Intel Xeon Coffee Lake single-board computer (SBC), VPX3-673 Assured PNT module, and VPX3-687 10GbE network switch module. Variants of the DSP and SBC modules featured in the demonstration are being developed in alignment with the SOSA Technical Standard. The demo also included the 3U OpenVPX Leonardo DRS SI-9172 Vesper Tuner/Exciter; L3Harris-Camden DataCrypt XMC mezzanine module PCIe encryptor and 3U OpenVPX NVMe secure storage module; and General Dynamics Mission Systems SignalEye artificial intelligence-based SIGINT automation threat detection.

The TSOA-ID event achieved its aim of showing how open system initiatives developed by industry have matured to the point that more powerful systems can be integrated more quickly and easily. The growing OSA ecosystem achievement breaks decades-long barriers created by tightly integrated systems, enabling new capabilities to be transitioned orders of magnitude faster than the past. For example, the demo described above required only a couple of days to integrate, an effort that would have required weeks to accomplish without today’s open standards. Industry has shown that interoperability is real.

Emerging requirements will benefit from the modularity and ease of integration delivered by OSA. Multivendor interoperability standards like CMOSS enable system designers to support the constant churn of solutions needed to meet evolving threats, with greater control, ease and lowered risk.

Industry now looks to government for new programs of record that mandate and leverage the use of these standards. Industry has made the investment and proven the viability and advantages of OSA, which means getting new capabilities to the warfighter faster. The challenge is no longer pulling the hardware and software together: It’s time for the acquisition process to begin and real programs to emerge. Industry is ready.

Mark Grovak is Director, Avionics Business Development, at Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions.

Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions www.curtisswrightds.com