To develop the Advanced Mission Computer and
Displays, the program office focused on building a modular architecture utilizing COTS. The office shunned
military standards and insisted on a performance-based
specification. The program office is now able to reuse
software and hardware to varying levels on the F/A- 18,
T- 45 and AV-8B tactical aircraft, avoiding the costs that
would be incurred if the Navy had developed different
applications and hardware for the various platforms.
The application of OA standards and processes
leads to similar reductions in the costs of training systems for the Navy’s ships and planes. OA also fosters
cost restraint by supporting diagnostic software and
relying on innovative life-cycle support approaches
such as distance support, a web-based tool that enables
experts ashore to advise and collaborate on maintenance tasks, reducing the maintenance burden on
sailors at sea.
Experts responsible for the BQQ- 10 Submarine
Sonar System Maintenance Free Operating Period
Program found that the addition of diagnostic software
helped cut man-hours expended, travel costs, operational down-time and hardware replacement costs. The
software identified corrective actions needed in
response to detected faults and, when directed by the
operator, executed the required “reconfiguration”
commands to redirect processing as needed to maintain system performance at design levels. Thus, they
eliminated 100 percent of open cabinet maintenance
for modules within the program boundary. This
enabled operators to focus more on operating the system rather than maintaining it.
Becoming leaders of change and innovation requires
increasing competition, collaboration and sharing
across the naval enterprise. In the 1990s, “OA” meant
maximizing the use of commercial standards and commodity COTS products as the preferred alternative to
monolithic combat system development. Government
program managers demanded modular designs consisting of components that are self-contained elements
with well-defined interfaces. That was a good start.
Today, program managers need more flexible acquisition strategies and contracts that allow systems to be
upgraded more easily without vendor lock-in.
Government and industry need to collaborate more —
a key feature of contemporary innovation and integration of technologies and business models. The Navy
can foster collaboration with contracts that contain
incentives for collaboration and cooperation among
OA promotes sharing through greater collaboration
by adopting peer reviews, conducting joint end-to-end
system engineering experimentation, and promoting
reuse and sharing of common solutions. Peer reviews
comprising government and industry subject matter
experts facilitate the identification of innovative solutions the Navy should consider when upgrading and
building systems. By bringing the Navy together with a
variety of industry partners, peer reviews increase
competition, which lowers costs and fosters the delivery of superior capabilities to warfighters.
In addition, collaboration through end-to-end
experimentation across multiple testing facilities provides access to more stakeholders, thereby helping to
harmonize standards and guidance and reducing the
risk of delivering products that are not interoperable.
The sharing of common system components and assets
across the enterprise will leverage the Navy’s considerable portfolio of intellectual property.
However, additional steps are needed if the Navy is
to fully harness the potential of OA. For example, a
repository for enterprise assets must be created to
enable the sharing of products, knowledge and ideas
through communities of interest.
The Navy must find ways to share government-owned intellectual property and data. This is possible
only if the government enters into contracts to acquire
the most flexible intellectual property rights available
— and establishes collaborative capabilities and
toolsets to support sharing.
The government also must be vigilant in protecting
these rights. Deliverables with correct markings and
attribution statements are essential. The government
will benefit from its investments only by protecting the
rights for which it has negotiated.
When the combat systems of tomorrow are built
correctly from the outset — “born open”— the Navy
will be able to keep pace with emerging threats and
maximize systems’ performance in an affordable manner. We should never have to encounter a scenario in
which our adversaries cruise the coastline of our
nation without our prior knowledge.
If we are to succeed in this transformation, organizations across the enterprise, from fleet requirements to
procurement to testing, must share in the OA vision.
Engineering and program management personnel must
implement OA through technical and business practices.
Our partners in academia must promote it in the classroom and through continuing education. And, finally,
industry must embrace the Navy’s new way of doing business and become proponents of open architecture. ■
Capt. Jim Shannon is a career surface warfare officer who
commanded two guided-missile frigates and has extensive
experience in the Second, Third, Fifth and Seventh Fleets. He is
now a major program manager in program executive office
Integrated Warfare Systems, where his focus is future combat
systems open architecture.