When the Naval Air Systems Command office responsible for the E-2C Hawkeye command-and-control aircraft adopted Open Architecture principles, the acquisition cycle time for enhancing the capabilities of the aircraft’s mission computing system was reduced from seven years to two-and-a-half.
was to be fielded. The office adopted OA principles and
integrated the new capabilities within 24 months. The
acquisition cycle time was reduced from seven years to
A second benefit of OA, increased operator and system performance, is achieved by integrating components into an appropriately designed and OA-compliant
For example, the Navy’s program executive office
for Command, Control, Communications, Computers
and Intelligence rapidly developed and deployed a new
capability to assist ship operators to better manage the
tracking of merchant ships. This was accomplished by
installing the Automatic Identification System (AIS)
on each ship.
A commercial shipboard broadcast system that performs much like a transponder, the AIS enables users
to track and communicate with all other ships within
range. This system reused previously developed software components, enabling the program executive
office to field the system within two months from the
initiation of the effort. Ship operators were able to see
twice as many merchant tracks in their Common
Operational Picture than before AIS was installed.
OA also fosters improved system interoperability,
meaning that all potential developers understand the
standards and interfaces in use and validate that systems work together as expected. To reap the benefits of
improved system interoperability, standards and interfaces for major combat systems — and the components
that comprise them — must be published and available
to all qualified vendors.
The H- 53 Heavy Lift Helicopters Program Office
needed a lightweight, survivable monitoring system to
detect impending failure of critical components on helicopters. It contracted for an open, modular system
design and required the prime contractor to publish key
interface specifications and prove the system was open
and could be modified by other vendors. The availability of the published interfaces enabled modules from different vendors to interchange without affecting performance. The Integrated Mechanical Diagnostics System is
now widely used in the helicopter community.
The cost avoidance stemming from OA is possible
because of the widespread adoption of commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) and government-off-the-shelf products and the reuse of government-owned assets, such
as software and hardware. OA enables the Navy to
develop or buy the software applications once and use
them repeatedly across the enterprise, thus minimizing
duplicate investments in the same capability.
With respect to hardware, OA fosters greater investment in COTS at optimum price points when the hardware is separated from the applications that ride on it.
For example, the Air Combat Electronics Program
Office changed its design and acquisition strategy to
find ways to continually provide aircraft with high performance computer processing to handle correlation,
fusion and the presentation of high volumes of data to
generate information relevant to warfighters.