Sensor Open Systems Architecture (SOSA): Enabling the Next Generation of Flexible and Adaptable Radar Systems

Military Embedded Systems

Published in Military Embedded Systems

In order to keep up with the continued acceleration of new technology and to be able to protect the warfighter from the latest threats, it is essential that we can turn our deployed platforms into adaptable entities that can evolve over time and are not static. The SOSA [Sensor Open Systems Architecture] Technical Standard is the next major step in realizing this goal.

The global military radar market is approximately a $10 billion per year business and spans a wide range of airborne, ground, and naval platforms. Radar platforms consist of surveillance, air defense, fire control, search and rescue, and other types of radar systems. These systems can range from very large active electronically scanned array (AESA) radars, which contain thousands of sensors, to very small radars with only a couple of sensors that can fit on small drones.

While the most visible part of a radar system is the large sensor array or antennae, behind each of these sensor arrays is a set of processing hardware that receives the sensor data, filters the data to identify the meaningful portions, generates metadata to characterize the received data, and then interprets that data to make useful decisions. This processing chain requires multiple interactions between different hardware entities as well as software functions.

One of the key challenges faced by radar system designers is the expense and effort required to keep the technology up to date with the latest innovations as they become available in the market. Additionally, there exists the desire to be able to introduce new algorithms quickly (i.e., quick-reaction capability [QRC]) and to be able to port specific mission capabilities easily between multiple systems. There also is a strong push to move from single-function systems to multi-INT [multiple intelligence] or multimission systems, which can be repurposed for different functions based on alternate firmware or software loads.

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