The VICTORY architecture drives COTS-based interoperability on combat vehiclesStory
April 18, 2012
The U.S. Army's VICTORY program looks to COTS to secure a win in defense vehicle networking.
Combat vehicles today typically have multiple independent systems that have no ability to share their functionalities or data. The U.S. Army’s Vehicular Integration for C4ISR/EW Interoperability (VICTORY) initiative encourages the use of COTS open-system standards, reduces redundancy, and makes additional space available by reducing Size, Weight, and Power (SWaP). The VICTORY initiative, which is not tied to any specific program or platform, coordinates input between government, academia, and industry participants. The DoD’s commitment to a Modular Open System Architecture (MOSA) is driving the use of open-system approaches both from the technical and the procurement perspectives.
The VICTORY initiative is an instantiation of the MOSA policy. The initiative’s charter is to define a standard approach for intravehicle networking to drive interoperability and drastically reduce component redundancy and the resulting inefficient use of limited real estate in combat vehicles caused by the use of “stovepipe” or “bolt-on” subsystems. At its core, VICTORY is developing standards for interoperability between Line Replaceable Units (LRUs) on combat vehicles. VICTORY defines the use of nonproprietary interfaces between heterogeneous LRU subsystems. The resultant open architecture standard won’t define how LRUs, typically supplied by different vendors, are built, but how they can intercommunicate and share data and resources.
Open, interconnected, interoperable environment
A useful metaphor for today’s stovepipe combat vehicle LRUs is to consider what desktop computing would be like if one needed a separate stand-alone system, likely from different vendors, for word processing, spreadsheets, and presentation software. Essentially, this is the operating environment in today’s combat vehicles, where there is limited interoperability and almost no sharing of data or resources. This is the exact problem that VICTORY aims to eliminate.
Because VICTORY LRUs communicate over distributed IP- based networks (exploiting cutting-edge commercial networking technology such as Web Services, SOAP, and XML), VICTORY helps eliminate redundant system components such as displays, keyboards, and GPS receivers. The use of open-system architectures ensures that customers have true choice with access to best-in-class, cost-effective technologies by eliminating the deployment of proprietary technologies. Further, by establishing a standard approach for LRU network interfaces, VICTORY eases and speeds the use of LRUs across various platforms, bringing the proven COTS model already embraced on the Line Replaceable Module (LRM) level to the LRU. Open standards and multiple vendor choices will lower costs by reducing the subsystem “lock-in” typical in today’s larger programs.
For an embedded COTS vendor such as Curtiss-Wright Controls Defense Solutions (CWCDS), VICTORY means a level playing field to compete and provide the market with a full range of interoperable COTS-based C4ISR components including computers, network switches, application processors, and multiple LRUs for use on many vehicles. VICTORY ensures that products from competing vendors can interoperate, easing the customer’s integration task while significantly reducing design risk and time to market, all to benefit the warfighter’s effectiveness.
On the road to VICTORY 2.0
The VICTORY standardization process began in May 2010. An initial timeline was established, targeting release of a deployable, usable revision 1.0 VICTORY Specification by the June/July 2011 timeframe. The Revision A VICTORY Architecture standard, describing the approach, components, and services, was released in April 2011, and the 1.0 VICTORY Specification, detailing requirements and message sets, debuted June 2011, as scheduled. In early 2012, the VICTORY Specification 1.1 was released, adding more subsystem message sets and recommended standard military rugged (MIL-STD-38999) connectors for Ethernet connections, adopting a standard in use by the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defense Generic Vehicle Architecture (GVA). The VICTORY working groups will continue to incorporate additional vehicle and C4ISR/EW subsystems in the road map to VICTORY 2.0.
VICTORY compliance for new programs
Vendors are already beginning to see VICTORY compliance as a requirement for new light tactical vehicle subsystems as well as in the emerging modernization requirements for combat vehicle platforms. Open standard-based rugged subsystem suppliers like CWCDS can address critical programs such as Abrams, Bradley, Stryker Modernization, and the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle with technology and packaging leadership, delivering standard-compliant products and their resulting flexibility, modularity, compatibility, and reduced cost. Figure 1 is an example of an Ethernet Router intended for VICTORY compliance.
Figure 1: The SwitchBox SMS-685 Ethernet router intended for VICTORY compliance from Curtiss-Wright Controls Defense Solutions
(Click graphic to zoom by 1.9x)
To learn more, e-mail Steve at [email protected].