Unmanned ISR Payloads Leverage MOSA Designs

March 04, 2022

Unmanned ISR Payloads Leverage MOSA Designs

Published in Military Embedded Systems
Written by Emma Helfrich

See more, detect more, and decode more – these are the primary requirements being asked of unmanned systems in the military, and proprietary hardware and software can make achieving those goals a challenge. This is why Army, Navy, and Air Force leaders mandated a Modular Open Systems Approach (MOSA) for all new programs and upgrades. MOSA examples include the Sensor Open Systems Architecture (SOSA) Technical Standard and the Future Airborne Capability Environment (FACE) Technical Standard. These initiatives among others, aim to offer commonality of hardware to enable easier and more affordable technology insertion in unmanned systems.

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) is looking to acquire more information from the field than ever before, thus requiring sensors to be increasingly capable even as the electromagnetic spectrum (EMS) grows more crowded. The sensor payloads of unmanned platforms – unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs), and unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) – carry much of that data-gathering pressure and expectation.

With the varying size, operating environment, and overall mission architecture of these unmanned systems, timely and cost-efficient technology refresh can prove to be difficult. This need also affects the control station operating the unmanned systems, as standardizing on communication ports has the potential to increase bandwidth and create opportunities for stronger information processing.

Between the potential for extended life cycles, lower acquisition costs, and better enabling of multidomain operations, adopting open architecture standards on unmanned platforms is gaining global attention, as well. With Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) at the forefront of DoD efforts, NATO allies are taking note of the positive effects open standards could have on joint-domain operations.

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Modular Open Systems Approach (MOSA)

On January 7, 2019, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) issued a memo, signed by the Secretaries of the Army, Air Force, and Navy, mandating the use of the Modular Open Systems Approach (MOSA). The MOSA directive has accelerated the adoption of a variety of open standards, such as The Open Group Sensor Open Systems Architecture™ (SOSA) and the U.S. Army CCDC C5ISR Center’s C5ISR/EW Modular Open Suite of Standards (CMOSS), that have been adopted by the three military branches.