Leveraging Open Architecture in Future Vertical Lift

I recently had the opportunity to co-author a paper on Open Architecture initiatives. One comment that my co-author, Matt, and I have discussed at length includes our closing line from the executive summary: Lessons are not truly learned until they are acted upon.  I hope to write more about that in the abstract sense at some future time; we as innovators in various industries can often look across other projects to glean lessons to learn from – but if our behavior does not change as a result, have we really learned anything?  I am excited and encouraged to be a part of a team that is serious about putting innovation into action in one of the world’s most complex domains: avionics.

Lessons are not truly learned until they are acted upon.

The Executive Summary is pasted, below. Download the full paper here: FVL_Leverages_FACE-TIM_paper_20170317-public

Defense aviation is at a critical pivot point with the emerging acquisition lifecycle for Future Vertical Lift (FVL). This will be a software intensive major acquisition program, with possibly more than half of the total program cost being allocated to software. We envision that FVL will need to fly and fight synergistically alongside legacy systems that will be a century old by the time they are scheduled for replacement. We believe that the architect should be an agent of the buyer, rather than of the seller, because the architecture encapsulates business objectives. The key issue for FVL, as well as for meaningful acquisition reform, centers on architectural control. The Army was an early adopter of the Future Airborne Capabilities Environment (FACE™) Technical Standard (TS) and Business Guide (collectively referred to as the FACE approach). This paper addresses some of the issues the FVL team is exploring in the context of leveraging Open System Architecture (OSA), including specifically the FACE approach. It goes beyond simply adoption of one or more standards to introduce proper constraints and agility built into the architecture and process. Our goal is to see the Army maximize parallel efforts (including legacy synergy) and ultimately shorten timelines while simultaneously reducing cost.

We intend to be strategic in the measurement of openness, such as provided by the FACE Conformance program, in FVL procurement. Openness alone, however, does not ensure reuse or interoperability. Alignment with existing systems at the component level will enable legacy synergy as well as unlocking benefits for future capability insertions and upgrades. In this time of historically constrained budgets, we can ill afford to sit on our laurels and await the future to emerge, we must seize it. The Army FVL Mission Systems Architecture (MSA) Working Group is driving down acquisition risk through realizable goals discussed within. Leveraging key lessons from existing efforts, particularly legacy upgrades and S&T innovations, the FVL MSA team is actively progressing towards realistically achieving these goals. Adoption of measurable open standards allows us to move forward with confidence that reuse and integration are now proven beyond speculation. What we do with that confidence and knowledge will critically shape defense aviation acquisition for the next several decades, thus we must move forward with measured confidence and decisive action towards putting into practice the lessons we are currently learning. Lessons are not truly learned until they are acted upon.

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