SOSA for Defense Sensors & Communication

April 14, 2020

Sensor communications systems are growing in complexity. For the defense industry, these systems are costly in terms of physical space, power usage and updates that may render multiple components obsolete. That’s why the Sensor Open Systems Architecture (SOSA) Consortium was formed. Comprised of Department of Defense partners and industry experts, these groups have come together to define an open system architecture that is applicable across Air Force, Army and Navy needs, consensus-based and nonproprietary.

The goals of this system, as listed on the SOSA Consortium website, are to:

  • Reduce development cycle time and cost
  • Reduce systems integration cost and risk
  • Increase commonality and reuse
  • Reduce sustainment and modernization cost
  • Support capability evolution and mitigate obsolescence
  • Enable technology transition
  • Facilitate interoperability
  • Isolate the effects of change

SOSA uses a Modular Open Systems Approach (MOSA) that includes these principles:

Modular Design & Defined Interfaces

A modular design allows upgrades and other changes to be made to singular or groups of modules with minor impact on the rest of the system. Modules can be composed of hardware or software. Modules interact with each other and various interfaces that can be grouped, allowing them to work together (information exchanges, mechanical connections, protocols and data content).

For example, one military vehicle might have radios, video displays, sensors, electronic warfare tools, antennas and other technologies, each with its own operating system. MOSA allows grouping their components (sensors, processors and displays), which eliminates redundancies – such as multiple video displays or antennae. Separate capabilities, such as mission command, movement and maneuver and firing can also be merged into one system of control. This greatly saves space, power usage and implementation costs.

Cost-Effective Sustainment

MOSA also allows for new modules to be quickly and easily inserted. Updates, such as new software, can be implemented through plug-in cards. Hardware can be upgraded with new sensors or chassis. This eliminates the need to install completely new hardware or software that is costly and can take years to fully implement.

Need-Focused Open Standards

The SOSA Consortium is what defines interface standards by determining what is needed across the industry and confirming that implemented standards are used. They also decide what upgrades or changes are made to the system architecture as it matures. This ensures that the Air Force, Army and Navy obtain the technologies needed and can use them effectively.

Industry-Wide Compatibility

True to its mission SOSA doesn’t replace current Air Force, Army or Navy open module systems, but works among them and enables them to work with each other. These systems include but are not limited to Future Airborne Capability Environment (FACE), Hardware Open Systems Technology (HOST), Open Mission Systems (OMS), Common/C4ISR/EW Modular Open Suite of Standards (CMOSS), Vehicle Integration for C4ISR/EW Interoperability (VICTORY) and RedHawk OS.