REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. — It’s more than just a buzzword — it’s the way of the future for Army aviation.
MOSA — modular open systems architecture (or approach) — has become a popular term in recent years in the defense community, but it’s something the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center’s Joint Technology Center/System Integration Laboratory has worked on for years. That expertise and baseline is helping the DEVCOM Aviation & Missile Center adapt technologies quickly, efficiently and at a lower cost to support Army modernization efforts.
“While it’s a new term today, for us it’s business as usual,” said Joe Reis, Multiple Unified Simulation Environment lead for the JSIL. “We’ve been striving for the last 10 years to try to break our software down into components so it can be reused. Wherever possible, we started adopting all these different standard protocols with the vision of being able to reuse those components and being able to integrate with more than just ourselves. With that we’re able to stretch into areas we never have before.”
At DEVCOM AvMC, the MOSA success story starts with MUSE — the Multiple Unified Simulation Environment — a command and staff trainer. Originally created to provide Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance simulation capabilities, today the government-developed and sustained MUSE software baseline is being used in a variety of systems, including advanced teaming, part of AvMC’s support to the Future Vertical Lift Cross-Functional Team. The JSIL works primarily with unmanned aircraft systems, to include Shadow, Gray Eagle, Reaper and Global Hawk.
“The MUSE baseline was the foundational software that we began with for the Advanced Teaming effort,” said JSIL Software Lead James Bowman III. “We’ve been modifying and enhancing the MUSE baseline for over 20 years, by incorporating customer capability requests, keeping pace with industry standards and maintaining an accreditation (Authority to Operate — ATO). It would not have been possible for the Army to constitute the capabilities inherent in MUSE in time to meet the needs of Army Futures Command.”
“We’ve leaped into this research and development field instead of just being a trainer, because of being able to break these components down,” Reis added.
For the AvMC team, that is the whole point of MOSA — delivering solutions expeditiously to the Army and the Warfighter.
“MOSA is taking a modular approach, and for us, that’s just not theoretical,” Bowman said. “Software modularity allows the teams to share components across our enterprise, thereby negating duplicative efforts. It is paramount that the government continue to address intelligent software design, since it is our responsibility to provide quality solutions to and for the Warfighter that are concurrently cost-optimal for the government.
“We work to ensure that there is an intentionality to identifying common capabilities, already resident in MUSE, in order to exploit for utilization in our UAS Trainer solutions. Obviously, if not properly implemented, there can be challenges with code synchronization. JSIL addresses this by adhering to industry standard software processes and by utilizing Azure DevOps to ensure solution integrity. Consequently, stove-pipe solutions are a thing of the past. Once a bug is fixed in a component, all software that utilizes that component inherits the benefits of the fix.”
Another MOSA success story is the JSIL’s support to the Synthetic Training Environment Cross-Functional Team. The Reconfigurable Virtual Collective Trainer-Air uses the MUSE baseline foundationally, merged with work the JSIL did for the Air Force, to create a UAS software baseline for the RVCT-A.
“We would not have been able to support the high op-tempo of the RVCT-A effort had we not leveraged and utilized this MOSA construct,” Bowman said. “We continue to be energized about the possibilities of utilizing the MUSE and collective decades of UAS modeling and simulation domain knowledge to address current and emerging requirements.”
What’s next for MOSA at AvMC? The JSIL team will support swarming unmanned aircraft systems, part of the work being done with Advanced Teaming and Air Launched Effects. That effort includes incorporating an Army Game Studio Image Generator, which will reduce the money spent for commercial off the shelf rendering engine licenses and maintenance fees, a price tag that runs over $1 million alone for one UAS variant.
“If we can take that million-dollar expenditure and invest it in an existing GOTS image generator, that cost just goes away,” Bowman said. “MOSA is not just some buzzword, in our view, the implementation thereof provides tangible evidence of how we save the Army money, and how we get solutions to the soldier expeditiously, because we’re constantly building on a pre-existing, well-vetted, foundation.”
AvMC supports a variety of partners with MOSA, to include Program Executive Office Aviation; PEO Simulation, Training and Instrumentation; the Air Force Agency for Modeling and Simulation; PEO Intelligence Electronic Warfare & Sensors; and the FVL and Synthetic Training Environment CFTs.
“All of this work that we have done and are very proud of also has a global impact,” Bowman said. “We work with coalition partners, and because we adhere to these standards, when we show up to an exercise, not only are we operating our simulation, our coalition partners ask us at times to help them and we do that proudly. We’re U.S. citizens working with our coalition partners that are going to go to battle with us in the event that hostilities break out. We’re very proud to work with these standards to support not just the U.S., but its partners.”
The DEVCOM Aviation & Missile Center, headquartered at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, is the Army’s research and development focal point for advanced technology in aviation and missile systems. It is part of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM), a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command. AvMC is responsible for delivering collaborative and innovative aviation and missile capabilities for responsive and cost-effective research, development and life cycle engineering solutions, as required by the Army’s strategic priorities and support to its Cross-Functional Teams.