The FACE Approach: A Shining Example of MOSA

The FACE Approach: A Shining Example of MOSA

Gone are the days when the United States could tower over all adversaries with unmatched technology projecting global power. Today, our near-peer adversaries can procure and build competitive (if not dominant) systems and capabilities that challenge our best weapons and defense systems.

Historically, the U.S. has built manned aircraft with both a single mission purpose and prime contractor and a fixed set of suppliers. Modifications to these systems had long lead times coupled with high costs of change. This worked well in a world where the number of aircraft types was constrained, and the cost of aircraft was modest when compared to the cost of aircraft today. But in the new era of unmanned systems and relatively high airframe costs, this is no longer feasible, especially in a world where multiple near-peer adversaries are emerging and evolving faster than the U.S. military can innovate. This challenge is exacerbated by tightening military budgets and equipment shifting to unmanned, robotic and autonomous platforms that drive both software and system complexity higher.

What is needed? Former U.S. Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis stated the demand for a Modular Open Systems Approach succinctly in 2018: “Success does not go to the country that develops a new technology first, but rather, to the one that better integrates it and more swiftly adapts its way of fighting.”

MOSA to the Rescue

How do we compete in this new environment? How does one insert technological advances into military systems at the speed of innovation? There are many vectors we can traverse to achieve this change, but one that has proven to be successful is to build a new procurement and technology approach. Specifically, an approach that creates system capability agility and incorporates a streamlined procurement process that does not need to flow through a platform prime contractor.

The U.S. military has now fully embraced a Modular Open Systems Approach (MOSA) that enables the rapid insertion of best-of-breed technology from a supply chain that supports both legacy defense and new innovative companies.

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has codified the use of MOSA into multiple directives, such as the U.S. DoD Tri-Services Memo from 7 January 2019 entitled MOSAs for our Weapon Systems is a Warfighting Imperative and the Secretary of Navy-issued Defense Acquisition System & Joint Capabilities Integration and Development Systems Implementation (SECNAV Instruction 5000.2F) on 26 March 2019, among others.

The benefits of MOSA are now well-proven and are summarized (see sidebar) in the U.S. DoD Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Modular Open Systems Approach document. There is no single “magic bullet” for implementing MOSA. The user must determine the desired outcomes up front to fully realize its benefits.

The FACE Approach

In 2010, almost a decade prior to these directives, government, industry and academia formed a powerful coalition of avionics experts to create an open, standards-based environment for the military avionics industry, with the goal of accelerating agility and warfighter capability in future avionics systems. This led to the creation of the Future Airborne Capability Environment (FACE) Consortium, which is managed by The Open Group, an independent standards management organization.

The FACE Consortium members created both a technical standard and a business approach that is now in its third major revision – it is a mature and highly relevant standard that can be employed in all military avionics systems.

The FACE Technical Standard is based on a layered architecture designed for rapidly replacing any software component as required. These layers, or FACE segments, consist of a software component or domain-specific data model designed to meet the applicable requirements defined in the FACE Technical Standard for a defined FACE architectural segment. These software modules are referenced as a FACE Unit of Conformance (UoC).

The FACE Consortium also created a UoC conformance and certification program. This is a process where UoCs are independently tested against a rigorous FACE Conformance Test Suite. When independently verified that a given UoC supports all requirements for a at any point in its development and becomes a FACE Certified UoC upon completion of the FACE Conformance Process.

There are eight very powerful structures built into the FACE Technical Standard. The first is this is a not a single service or set of company standards – it is a government/industry collaboration by 90 member organizations on the standard itself and its supporting ecosystem is managed by an independent body. There are no competing abstraction layers between FACE software components. This creates a framework for building multiple product lines that can be readily integrated and deployed.

Another key is that the FACE Consortium only publishes application programming interfaces (APIs), not business logic. Because the majority of these APIs are based upon existing open standards, this eliminates the opportunity to inadvertently export military application business logic when publishing this standard.

FACE deployments are broad in reach and are flexible. FACE systems are applicable for real-time, near-real-time, and non-real-time systems, allowing FACE investments to be supported by a larger customer and program base. There is flexibility designed in below the transport layer, which enables the use of a wide range of network protocol and backplanes. This enables FACE applications to maintain interoperability across different communications and connectivity environments.

The FACE Technical Standard is data-centric by design. There is explicit governance at the data architecture level that optimizes opportunities for re-use and interoperability by enforcing a common lexicon for component-to-component interfaces. This data-centricity also directly aligns to and supports the DoD Data Strategy, “Unleashing Data to Advance the National Defense Strategy”, which was published in September 2020. The DoD Data Strategy declares that all DoD leaders have the responsibility to “treat data as a weapon system and manage, secure, and use data for operational effect.” This further supports the vision of the DoD becoming a data-centric organization that “uses data at speed and scale for operational advantage and increased efficiency.”

All published FACE documents are approved for public release: distribution unlimited. This facilitates easy access and inclusion for coalition and supply chain partners.

The FACE Technical Standard is also a standard-of-standards. The FACE Technical Reference Manual did not invent new APIs where existing, proven commercial and military standards were well-established. Instead, sixty industry standards were leveraged to create a larger market for these standards and to immediately add proven reliability and quality.

FACE update Part II will appear in the next issue.

Chip Downing is the Senior Market Development Director of Aerospace and Defense at Real-Time Innovations (RTI). In this position, he manages RTI’s global Aerospace & Defense business and helps drive the RTI Connext product, which is now used in over 1,700 global systems, both commercially and in the military aerospace market. Downing currently serves as Chair of the FACE Consortium Business Working Group Outreach Subcommittee, promoting the FACE approach globally..

Collins Aerospace Receives Additional FACE Certifications for Open Systems for Military Avionics

Collins Aerospace recently received new Conformance Certificates from The Open Group Future Airborne Capability Environment (FACE) for two software products. Collins Aerospace is a unit of Raytheon Technologies Corp.

The Collins Aerospace Mission Flight Management Software (MFMS-1000) and Localizer Performance and Vertical Guidance Calculator (LPVC-1000), which provide mature software centric solutions on multiple aircraft types, are two of three Collins software applications to receive the certification, marking one of the highest completion rates in the industry. In 2017, Collins’ Avoidance Re-router (ARR-7000) software product was the first to be certified.

“These certifications are a major milestone for us because they align with the Department of Defense’s Modular Open Systems Approach (MOSA) standards,” said Dave Schreck, vice president and general manager for Military Avionics and Helicopters at Collins Aerospace. “These standards have been put in place to ensure products are designed to reduce integration time and ultimately increase rapid, affordable deployments of innovation.”

The recently updated MFMS-1000 provides global civil airspace access with seamless integration of existing mission flight management capabilities in a portable software-only solution. Its design maximizes affordability and portability across disparate aircraft platforms while minimizing the time it takes to field worldwide Required Navigation Performance and Area Navigation (RNP and RNAV) flight procedure capabilities.

The LPVC-1000 is a software component that enables fixed and rotary wing aircraft to perform more accurate satellite-based approaches and landings. These procedures provide savings in time, fuel and emissions for aircraft operators. The flexible design of this software product, along with its conformance to the FACE Technical Standard, allows utilization of the LPVC-1000 across numerous aircraft types for all branches of the military.

The FACE Consortium is a government and industry partnership to define an open avionics environment for multiple airborne platform types. FACE Certification proves that a software component has successfully been through an independent verification and certification process defined by the FACE Conformance Program.

✈ Aerospace Tech Week (ATW) rescheduled to 3-4 November ’21.

It’s very encouraging that the end of the pandemic is hopefully in sight and once these wonderful vaccines are successfully rolled out then life can start to return to some normality. At which point travel and events such as ATW can safely recommence.

We therefore feel it is more prudent to reschedule ATW, one last time, to 3-4th November ’21 giving the vaccine roll out more time. The event will remain at the same Diagora venue in Toulouse, France.

We are very confident that our in-person event will be a great success and it’s even bigger than when it was originally scheduled pre-pandemic! The conference programmes are already in place and the exhibitions halls are nearly full

The hiatus in our event schedule has ironically given us more time to use our new publication, ✈ Aerospace Tech REVIEW to share news and raise even greater awareness of the event for us all. Therefore we expect a significant take up from attendees which will create a much needed business platform for us all.

Thank you to all our loyal supporters and see you in Toulouse!


Green Hills Software’s INTEGRITY-178 tuMP RTOS Selected for Embedded GPS/INS-Modernization Program

Green Hills Software, the worldwide leader in high-assurance operating systems, today announced that its INTEGRITY-178 Time-Variant Unified Multi-Processing (tuMP) RTOS running on a quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 CPU has been selected by Northrop Grumman Corporation for the Embedded Global Positioning System (GPS)/Inertial Navigation System (INS)-Modernization (EGI-M) program. Key factors in the selection of INTEGRITY-178 tuMP were:

  • the ability to run a DAL-A partition across multiple Cortex-A53 cores;
  • built-in DAL-A functionality and tools for mitigating multicore interference per CAST-32A;
  • certified conformance to the FACE 3.0 Technical Standard, including all the multicore requirements;
  • support for ARINC 653 Part 2 Multiple Module Schedules across multiple cores;
  • a proven Multiple Independent Levels of Security (MILS) service history and certification pedigree; and
  • flexible core assignment by the integrator, enabling optimal core utilization and maximum spare capacity for future growth

Based upon a modular, open-systems architecture, EGI-M supports rapid insertion of new capabilities to enable robust, accurate, and reliable positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) information, even in GPS-denied conditions. EGI-M incorporates a military code (M-code) GPS receiver that adds robustness to interference of GPS signals. The lead platforms for EGI-M are Northrop’s E-2D Hawkeye and Lockheed Martin’s F-22 Raptor, but it is designed to be scalable to any manned platform and larger unmanned vehicles.

“Green Hills Software is proud to be selected by Northrop Grumman for the critical EGI-M Program,” said Dan O’Dowd, founder and chief executive officer of Green Hills Software. “The INTEGRITY-178 tuMP RTOS has an unequaled combination of safety and security in a single product complete with support for open standards such as ARINC 653 and FACE. Designed from the beginning to be a multicore RTOS, INTEGRITY-178 tuMP is the only FACE-conformant RTOS that has ability to run a DAL-A partition across multiple cores and mitigate multicore interference per CAST-32A.”

The INTEGRITY-178 tuMP safety- and security-critical RTOS is designed to simultaneously meet DO-178B/C design assurance level (DAL) A and the separation kernel protection profile (SKPP) as defined by the NSA. INTEGRITY-178 tuMP is a multicore RTOS with support for running a multi-threaded DAL A partition across multiple processor cores in symmetric multi-processing (SMP) or bound multi-processing (BMP) configurations. INTEGRITY-178 tuMP was the first RTOS to be certified conformant to the FACE Technical Standard, edition 3.0, and remains the only one conformant for all three avionics processor architectures: Arm, Intel, and Power Architecture. The MILS capability of INTEGRITY-178 tuMP comes from its implementation as a true separation microkernel. The INTEGRITY-178 RTOS is the only commercial operating system ever certified to the Separation Kernel Protection Profile (SKPP) published by the Information Assurance Directorate of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA). That certification was done by the National Information Assurance Partnership (NIAP) to Common Criteria EAL 6+ “High Robustness.”

Physical Optics Corporation and Ansys Streamline Avionics Development for U.S. Military Aircraft

Physical Optics Corporation is using Ansys simulation software solutions to develop avionics for U.S. military aircraft. Ansys SCADE Solutions for ARINC 661 Applications (Ansys SCADE for ARINC 661), will enable POC to reduce development time and accelerate certification — integrating new functionality at a much lower cost and enabling a faster path to market.

U.S. Department of Defense legacy aircraft equipped with aging avionics and controls require upgrades to add new capabilities. As avionics software becomes increasingly sophisticated, complying with complex requirements, satisfying safety-critical standards and reducing costs present major development challenges. Efficient model-based software development with qualified code generation offers a more streamlined approach to decrease software cost and development while effectively managing highly complex designs.

“We selected Ansys SCADE for ARINC 661 with the hope of significantly streamlining model-based software development and lowering the risk path to certification,” said Omar Facory, vice president of Mission Systems at POC. “Ansys SCADE 661 is instrumental for driving interoperability and reusability — enabling our team to easily update new functionality for military aircraft as it becomes available.”

Ansys SCADE for ARINC 661 provides model-based software development and automatic qualified code generation to create and certify avionics software. Development time can be reduced while adhering to ARINC 661, DO-178C and the FACE Technical Standard, the company says. Driving reusability across aircraft platforms, Ansys SCADE 661 expedites integration of new functionalities and reduces platform-specific design.

“Ansys SCADE for ARINC 661 provides the ability to rapidly generate avionics software in full compliance with ARINC 661 and enables alignment to the FACE Technical Standard,” said Eric Bantegnie, vice president and general manager at Ansys. “This delivers outstanding reliability, dramatically increases productivity, achieves a top-tier level of quality and swiftly expedites software certification, while fully qualifying with DO-178C.”

US Army, L3Harris and Ansys Collaborate to Improve Aviation Performance and Affordability

The United States Army, L3Harris Technologies and Ansys are advancing the performance and affordability of next generation aviation and missile system applications. The U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (CCDC) Aviation & Missile Center (AvMC) evaluated commercially available solutions to seamlessly support rapid integration of software aligned to the FACE Technical Standard through a joint Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA).

The FACE Technical Standard enables software on embedded military computing systems to be more interoperable, portable and secure. The CRADA utilized L3Harris and Ansys-developed software aligned to FACE Technical Standard hosted on the Crew Mission System (CMS) platform for the Cockpit Display Station (CDS). The CRADA represents significant progress in showcasing how model-based development tools like Ansys SCADE®, along with L3Harris’ FliteScene®, can support rapid standards-based integration in support of the FACE Technical Standard and ARINC 661 standards.

“Adding new capabilities into our enduring platforms has been costly in both time and money. With emerging threats and limited resources, we simply have to provide more capabilities to our warfighters faster with less funding,” said Joe Carter, U.S. Army Program Executive Office Aviation G10 Tactical Branch Chief and FACE Consortium Steering Committee chair. “Contributions from our industry partners, including Ansys and L3Harris, help exercise and mature the FACE Technical Standard allowing rapid integration of capabilities for our warfighters. This enables us to provide our warfighters a wide variety of new and improved capabilities from any number of technology suppliers.”

The Ansys SCADE software toolset efficiently enables a complete workflow ranging from FACE modeling through DO-178C (up to DAL-A) certifiable code-level generation. Ansys tools support software development aligned to the FACE Technical Standard at both the model and generated code levels, providing users with an easy workflow that passes the FACE Conformance Test Suite (CTS), a necessary test process included in the FACE Technical Standard. This effectively streamlines the development effort of embedded control/display/HMI applications aligned to the FACE Technical Standard and is compliant to the ARINC 661 standard.

“L3Harris is a leading supplier of current and emerging airborne software applications,” said Matt Collins, general manager, Mission Avionics, L3Harris Space and Airborne Systems. “Through the CRADA, L3Harris will further speed innovations in background digital moving map technology for CDS.”

Ansys SCADE Solutions for ARINC 661 compliant systems fully adhere to the ARINC 661 standard, including the ARINC 661 Server, the User Applications (UA), standard binary and XML Definition Files (DF), and the communication code between Ansys SCADE UA models and any ARINC 661 Server. This ultimately saves time and reduces effort and cost when developing cockpit display systems.

“The U.S. Army depends on the efficiency of safety-critical software development and integration efforts to advance emerging aviation and missile system capabilities while keeping program costs down,” said Eric Bantegnie, vice president and general manager at Ansys. “Ansys looks forward to providing next-generation solutions that are aligned with the Army’s model-based systems engineering initiatives and open system architecture standards.”  

Abaco’s Introduces New Graphics XMC for Flexibility and Minimizing Latency for Mission-Critical Applications

Abaco Systems today further expanded its growing range of video/graphics solutions with the launch of the rugged, high bandwidth NVP2102A XMC Graphics and GPGPU Card. Designed to complement the recently-announced NVP2102, the NVP2102A offers additional support for legacy interfaces and peripherals.

Based on the NVIDIA® Quadro Pascal (GP107) P2000 GPU architecture and providing up to 2.3 TeraFLOPS of peak performance, target applications for the new board include those that require very high-end graphics capabilities or CUDA® support when performing general purpose processing, and that require raw video capture and display. The NVP2102A is competitively advantaged by its provision of four 3G-SDI inputs – twice the number typically found. It also provides two NTSC/PAL video inputs as well as supporting two audio inputs. Video output is via two 3G-SDI and two DVI or DisplayPort interfaces.

Of particular note is the NVP2102A’s support for direct video capture to GPU memory. This significantly reduces latency, minimizing glass-to-glass time – enabling the delivery of actionable information in closer to real time. The input resolution of incoming video is automatically detected and raw video frames are transferred directly to GPU memory (or host memory). In GPU memory, processing such as image analysis, image enhancement, 360-degree video stitching, sensor fusion, target detection and so on takes advantage of the extraordinary capabilities of NVIDIA GPGPU (CUDA/OpenCL) technology to deliver output to the user far faster than would otherwise be possible. The captured data can also be encoded using the GPU-native H.265 (HEVC) or H.264 encoders directly in GPU memory. Windows® or Linux drivers and API are available for x86 systems.

“With the NVP2102A, we’re delivering the kind of performance and functionality on an XMC card that, until recently, would have required a full size card – occupying a valuable chassis slot,” said Peter Thompson, vice president, Product Management at Abaco Systems. “Not only does the NVP2102A minimize SWaP, but it also features the advanced capabilities of the latest NVIDIA GPU and no fewer than four video inputs. In addition, its architecture enables it to deliver reduced latency – addressing a significant challenge for developers of advanced video and graphics processing applications.”

The NVP2102A supports Abaco’s AXIS ImageFlex. AXIS ImageFlex is an image processing and visualization toolkit enabling rapid development of high performance image processing, visualization and autonomy applications aimed at size, weight and power (SWaP) sensitive platforms. It is focused on high performance GPU processing and graphics with interoperability with other programing paradigms such as OpenGL, OpenCL, CUDA and OpenCV.

The NVP2102A  is offered in conduction cooled or air cooled variants with rear XMC I/O on Pn6. The rear XMC pin-out is compatible with VPX systems that follow VITA 46.9 x12d+x8d+24s. 3U VPX and PCIe form factors are supported with carrier boards.

Wind River Helix Virtualization Platform Honored with Military & Aerospace Electronics Platinum Innovators Award

Wind River has been honored with the Military & Aerospace Electronics Platinum Innovators Award for Wind River Helix Virtualization Platform (Helix Platform). The awards recognize companies offering important military, aerospace, and avionics design solutions.

“We are honored to be recognized once again with this top award for our innovations in the aerospace and defense sectors,” said Ray Petty, vice president, global aerospace and defense, Wind River. “Helix Platform supports open architectures and rapidly scales for new technology insertion, allowing suppliers to develop innovative, future-proof, software-defined systems that can deliver increasingly advanced capabilities in a cost-effective and low-risk manner.”

Introduced in February 2019, Wind River describes their Helix Platform as an adaptive software development environment for aerospace, defense, and other critical infrastructure systems. Leveraging industry-leading VxWorks 653 technology as its foundation, Helix Platform comprises of VxWorks along with virtualization technology, integrated with Wind River Linux and Wind River Simics for system simulation. It meets the stringent safety-certification requirements of the DO-178C, IEC 61508, and ISO 26262 safety standards, and is conformant to the latest Future Airborne Capability Environment (FACE) Technical Standard, Edition 3.0.

Helix Platform supports symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) and asymmetric multiprocessing (AMP) designs; and RTCA DO-297 Integrated Modular Avionics (IMA) considerations reduce safety certification costs and accelerate time to deployment. It offers POSIX and ARINC 653 support, including for ARINC 653 Part 1 Supplement 5; and Part 2, Supplement 3. The platform operates system-agnostic, providing the ability to run any unmodified guest operating system.

“On behalf of the Military & Aerospace Electronics Innovators Awards, I would like to congratulate Wind River on their Platinum-level honoree status,” said Military & Aerospace Electronics editor in chief John Keller. “This competitive program allows Military & Aerospace Electronics to celebrate and recognize the most innovative products impacting the aerospace and defense community this year.”

The judging panel consisted of an independent group of esteemed and experienced professionals in the aerospace and defense community. This is the fourth consecutive year that Wind River has been recognized with the Military & Aerospace Electronics Innovators Award. The company was also recognized earlier this year by Frost & Sullivan with the Avionics Software Platform Technology Leadership Award.

SOSA Consortium Applauds Recent Tri-Services Directive to Use Modular Open Systems

The Sensor Open Systems Architecture™ (SOSA) Consortium, a consortium of The Open Group, today announced its agreement with and support for the recent Tri-Service acquisition memorandum signed by the Secretaries of the U.S. military – the Army, Navy, and Air Force – directing that Modular Open Systems (MOSA) 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. The memo, titled “Modular Open Systems Approaches for our Weapon Systems is a Warfighting Imperative,” specifically cites the SOSA Consortium, in addition to the Open Mission Systems/Universal Command and Control Interface (OMS/UCI), Future Airborne Capability Environment™ (FACE) and Vehicular Integration for C4ISR/EW Interoperability (VICTORY) standards, “as vital to our success”. 

The memo aligns with the mission of the SOSA Consortium to create a common framework for transitioning sensor systems to an open systems architecture, based on key interfaces and open standards established by industry-government consensus. All of the standards cited in the memorandum are embraced by the open system reference architectures being developed by the SOSA Consortium. 

The SOSA Consortium is set to provide a fair and neutral environment for cooperation between industry and government partners, resulting in a collaborative effort across the Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) community, Air Force and Department of Defense, and industry. The architecture will incorporate both hardware and software components to handle demanding processing and data requirements, ease system upgrades, reduce total cost of ownership, and promote competitive acquisition with minimal system reworks. 

John C. Bowling, Technical Expert, Avionics Architectures and Interoperability, AFLCMC/EZAC states,“The Tri-Service Secretaries memorandum clearly validates the integrative approach to multi-function sensor open architecture by the SOSA Consortium. This provides additional incentive for industry collaboration in sensor standards development which, in turn, should advance maturation and broaden acceptance of the emerging SOSA Technical Standard”.

Please find the Technical Standard here.

FACE Suppliers are Coming to Europe in 2020!

It is always challenging to drive support for an industry standard. And it is even more challenging to garner support for a standard internationally. This is going to change in 2020. The Open Group Future Airborne Capability Environment (FACE™) Consortium has teamed up with Aerospace TechWeek 2020 in Toulouse, France to create a special FACE Consortium Pavilion area for exhibiting FACE solutions.   

The FACE Consortium team has been proving the FACE standard for over five years, primarily via outreach to US DoD customers via FACE Technical Interchange Meetings (TIMs), to NATO partners, and BALSA BITS integration events.  These efforts, coupled with over 30 FACE procurements under way, are driving FACE adoption for the world’s most challenging next generation avionics systems.

Next spring will be the first public event in Europe for The Open Group FACE™ Consortium. The event will take place on March 18-19, 2020 in Toulouse, France. Over 20 FACE Consortium member companies are already planning to exhibit.  The inclusion of FACE exhibitors at this event makes this the world’s leading avionics trade show for commercial and military avionics.

Inevitably, we get the question of:  “Wait, FACE is ITAR, right?”  Wrong.  Although the FACE Technical Standard and Business Approach were created under a joint US government-industry standards environment, all FACE standards documents are published on the Open Group website and downloadable by anyone in the world for free with zero restrictions on usage in any type of system. In addition, FACE is a standard-of-standards. The FACE Technical Standard is based upon over 60 open standards, including ARINC 653, POSIX, OpenGL, DDS and more.  And all FACE Technical Interchange Meetings (TIMs) have been public events and open to anyone in the world, so this is truly an open standard ready to be deployed in global avionics systems.

This is our inaugural event for FACE Technical Standard and Business Approach in Europe.

This unique event expands the FACE standard into NATO countries and strengthens our relationships with our global coalition partners.   For more information on this event, see Aerospace TechWeek 2020.

Thanks!   See you in Toulouse in March 2020!

Chip Downing

Senior Market Development Director, RTI Chair, FACE Outreach Subcommittee


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