How Modularity Can Shorten System Development and Decrease Costs

F-17 Modular Open System Approach

With continued pressure to reduce the size, weight, and power (SWaP) of airborne and vehicle electronics, while decreasing costs and meeting aggressive delivery schedules, military systems integrators are increasingly looking for commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) solutions to meet unique platform requirements. Defense leaders are mandating the use of modular, COTS-based open systems architectures to facilitate affordability and technology readiness. The U.S. DoD’s Modular Open System Approach (MOSA) has such an objective: to leverage modular designs and widely supported, consensus-based standards for key interfaces to reduce the cost of integrating future system changes.

The U.S. Offices of the Secretary of the Navy, Secretary of the Army, and the Secretary of the Air Force communicated this objective through a 2019 joint memo titled “Modular Open Systems Approaches for our Weapon Systems is a Warfighting Imperative.” Also known as the Tri-Services Memo, it states that “MOSA supporting standards should be included in all requirements, programming, and development activities for future weapon system modifications and new start development programs to the maximum extent possible.”

To this end, Curtiss-Wright has developed a range of rugged, open architecture-based, small form factor (SFF) mission processor systems designed to minimize non-recurring expense (NRE) for customization. These systems are built using modules that are pre-integrated so customers can choose the different components based on their requirements (see Figure 1). Because of their modular nature, these Modified COTS (MCOTS) or tailored COTS-based mission computer solutions can meet platform-specific requirements without extensive and costly development. With built-in scalability and I/O expansion characteristics, these modular solutions make it possible to take a general-purpose device and transform it into a tailor-made solution.

Modified COTS

Figure 1: Modular MCOTS systems help system integrators address diverse mission system requirements

Curtiss-Wright’s Parvus® DuraCOR® mission processor line features a range of systems that are mechanically optimized for low SWaP, as well as ingress protection (dust and waterproof), thermal management (fanless, passive natural convection), and reliable operation under extreme environmental, power, and EMI conditions.

Modified COTS DuraCOR

Figure 2: MCOTS mission computers are adaptable to meet program needs

Military and aerospace contractors are indeed discovering the advantages of open architecture MCOTS solutions for vetronics and avionics upgrades, as they address SWaP reduction, compressed deployment schedules, and shrinking government budgets. For its part, Curtiss-Wright continues to provide innovative, cost-effective, and qualified SFF mission processors based on open standards that are today being deployed broadly in ground vehicles, aircraft of all types, and maritime vessels. These proven modular system architectures, together with seasoned MCOTS subsystem integration services and a growing base for embedded SFF COTS I/O modules, will continue to reduce risk, save money, shorten schedules, and help ensure mission success for customers.

For more information about MCOTS mission processor solutions and related customer case studies, download the white paper.