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Republished with permission of Defense Daily

June 7, 2012

NAVAIR Moving Forward On Open Architecture Systems

Mike McCarthy

Lexington Park, Md.-- Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) is forging ahead with the development of open architecture standards to produce common software interfaces for avionics across a range of Navy and Marine Corps aircraft.

The effort is focused around the Future Airborne Capability Environment (FACE) initiative, which is based in the command’s Air Combat Electronics unit, and is a consortium of representatives from government, industry and academia dedicated to promoting open standards and standard software interfaces in avionics.

The goal is also to scale back propriety data rights held by industry that locks the government into a single company for a product or upgrades--known as vendor lock.

“The current systems in aviation are very stove piped,” said Robert Sweeney, NAVAIR’s lead engineer for FACE. “The operating environment of the products that are currently out there for us to use have proprietary interfaces.”

“The goal is to break those vendor locks to create standardized interfaces,” he told Defense Daily at the FACE expo Tuesday at the Patuxent River Naval Air Museum adjacent to NAVAIR in Patuxent River, Md.

FACE in one of many initiatives within the Pentagon and Navy to move toward more open architecture (OA) systems. OA has emerged as a top priority and is seen as a way to allow for easier and more rapid technology insertion into existing systems to reduce total ownerships costs and phase out legacy systems that become expensive to maintain and upgrade.

Sweeney said his group plans to complete an open architecture contracting guidebook for NAVAIR by this fall that will be based off of DoD wide guidebook for program managers first published in December.

“We are taking those guidelines and modifying them or adding more detail to them on how they can be used with the FACE standard and aviation,” Sweeney said.

Capt. Tracy Barkhimer, the program manager for Air Combat Electronics, said FACE has already been incorporated into two requests for information postings (RFI) for planned competitions, including upgrades to C-130T transport planes.

Barkhimer said in the same interview the goal is to introduce FACE standards in baby steps as aircraft are upgraded to allow for the insertion of open architecture systems.

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