Establishing VICTORY Architecture Standards [Army]
(Army Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Sometimes the best way to grasp the significance of a new technology is to view the scope of its planned Army applications. Based on that criteria, one of the more sigLnificant emerging technologies identified lfor application in future vehicle fleet and letworking designs will be the Vehicular itegration for Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance /Electronic Warfare (C4ISR/ EW) InTerOpeRabüitY (VICTORY) initiative.
According to Scott Davis, U.S. Army Program Executive Officer for Ground Combat Systems (PEO GCS), the VICTORY standard will be included in all upcoming engineering change proposals for existing vehicle fleets, in the Ground Combat Vehicle effort, and in families of computers planned for gration into the platforms of tomorrow.
"If you look largely at the commercial sector, the reason they are able to react very rapidly and get to interchangeable parts is through adopting sets of standards," Davis explained at the February AUSA Winter Symposium and Exhibition in Fort Lauderdale, FIa. "I am proud to say that we, in coordination with PEO C3T [Program Executive Office for Command Control Communications-Tactical], and under the hard work of Southwest Research Institute, have now published what we call VICTORY Architecture 1.1."
Originally envisioned as a way to eliminate many of the problems created by the traditional "bolt on" approach to vehicle upgrade/enhancement, VICTORY will allow tactical wheeled vehicle fleets and ground combat system fleets to recover lost space while reducing weight and saving power.
The initiative began with a kickoff meeting in May 2010. Fourteen months later the VICTORY 1.0 specification was released at the end of July 2011.
More recent framework product releases included publication of the VICTORY Al architecture in mid-January 2012 and release of standards specification 1.1 on January 31. The enhanced specifications encompass additional subsystems and follow a road map identifying targets for each sequential release.
The VICTORY framework includes an architecture that defines common terminology, systems, components and interfaces; a set of standard technical specifications; and a set of reference designs.
Davis characterized VICTORY as "a framework that really designs or specifies the standards for an internal vehicle data distribution architecture. It's material agnostic, but it really gets to some of the things that we might see in iPhones or in commercial computers, where it now defines - for our platform [peoplel and all of the network providers - a set of standards that they will find on the [data] bus so that integration will be far easier.
"Today, for example, on some of our platforms you will see multiple GPS devices, because each time another PM [product manager] brought an additional capability to that platform that required accurate timing or position location they came with their own GPS," he said. "Under the VICTORY standard you can look at the framework of the specification, and it will tell you where on the [data] bus to find GPS location and time signals; where to find vehicle orientation; where to find vehicle speed ... . So, when you bring a new network component that needs that input, it doesn't have to include those features. VICTORY also provides ... physical interface standards to plug in. Overall, this is really helping us drive to a better 'plug and play' capability from the network side into the platforms."
He emphasized that "VICTORY does not bring with it any hardware or software, but it does provide a series of standard protocols and definition of what the [data] bus is. So if you bring a new sensor onto the vehicle, the way it will get its feeds will be over a gigabit Ethernet that is defined by the VICTORY standards."
The VICTORY specifications are being developed by a government/ industry standards body, with VICTORY following an adopt-adapt-author methodology in the effort to move towards establishing the common open standards for use within the vehicle and mission system communities.
A recent listing of participants in the VICTORY standards body reflected multiple service program offices across vehicular and electronics arenas as well as more than a dozen members from industry and academia, including U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research; Development and Engineering Center; C4i Pty Ltd; CACI International; Chugach Industries; Control Point; Curtiss-Wright; DCS Corp; DRS Technologies; GPS Source; Product Manager Joint light Tactical Vehicles; NetCentric Technology; Oakwood Controls; Oshkosh Defense; Product Director GPS; PEO C3T; PEO Combat Support and Combat Service Support; PEO Ground Combat Systems; PEO Intelligence, Electronic Warfare & Sensors; Raytheon; U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command; Southwest Research Institute; U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center; Themis Computer; and Tucson Embedded Systems.
One of the representative companies that has been active in the working group and is translating the VICTORY philosophy into hardware solutions is Curtiss-Wright Controls Defense Solutions (CWCDS). At AUSA's Winter Symposium and Exhibition the company presented the first public demonstration of "Poised for VICTORY," its VICTORY 1.0-compliant modular architecture for ground vehicle modernization. The company highlighted the design as "optimally deliver[ing] the full power of a modular open systems architecture (MOSA) to legacy and new vehicle platforms to provide unprecedented levels of commonality and affordability."
According to David Jedynak, technical product manager for Network Centric Systems at CWCDS, the display was reflective of company plans to develop a range of VICTORY-compliant products, including Ethernet switching, security devices, mission recording products, and shared processing units.
"The key thing about VICTORY is that, at the end of the day, it's all about warfighter benefit in the vehicle," Jedynak said. "As we've seen over the last several years of conflict, we have typically had a lot of appliqué/stovepipe systems installed in the vehicles, and whether it's FBCB2 [Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Belowl or another system, each system comes with its own complete set of turnkey gear. There's no sharing."
He continued, "To put it in an office metaphor, it would be as if you had one computer for Microsoft Word, another computer for email, another computer for a Web browser, and another one for Microsoft Excel. Then occasionally you would install a kit that would do PowerPoint. And you would have three different phones: one to call your boss, one to call your colleagues and one to call outside the building. Finally, on top of everything else, each item would have to have its own monitor and its own printer.
"When we start to look at vehicles and what's on the vehicles, there is a lot of that sort of duplication," he said. "We are seeing a lot of 'over burden' on SWAP-C [size, weight, power and cost! for the vehicle. A great example of that is if you have eight different systems on a vehicle that all need GPS, you would currently have eight GPS receivers and eight GPS antennas on top of the vehicle. But then the VICTORY initiative came along and said, 'Let's find a way to create an architecture/design for the C4ISR/EW network on a vehicle.' And the key word there is network."
Jedynak noted that certain accepted industry standards already help to identify things like how to build a line replaceable unit (LRU) in a commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) module, while VICTORY "is about how you get those LRUs to talk to each other. The key thing is that you can start sharing equipment - displays and other resources - so that it is more like a real office environment where you have one of each item and can do a number of different applications. VICTORY is all about making sure that all of the different systems, coming from different vendors with different technologies, are able to interoperate," he said.
Jedynak offered another real-world example of the benefits of VICTORY, involving an acoustic shot detection system, a remote weapon station and an FBCB2.
"Right now, if the shot detection system says, 'Hey, the shot came from over there/ there is shooter location information with that appliqué," he said, "but if somebody wanted to integrate that information with FBCB2 they would have to go over and do it manually. And if they want to point the remote weapon station at that threat, they have to do that manually as well. Those systems have no interconnection.
"Now, looking at a VICTORY example, a generic threat detection system message would be published on the VICTORY data bus," he said. "The FBCB2/Blue Force Tracking sort of application, running on the vehicle, would 'hear' that information and automatically populate that threat, and then the commander could say that he wanted his remote weapon station to 'slew-to-cue' on that threat."
Acknowledging that there are other ways to do this sort of system integration outside of the VICTORY architecture, Jedynak said, "The key thing Labout VICTORY is that it is a set of government standards adhering to the MOSA philosophy. It ensures that products and technologies from multiple vendors, as well as different organizations within the Army itself, are driving toward the same interoperability standard.
"That doesn't mean that a remote weapon station, a threat protection system, a communications management system, a mission recording system or any of the other things that might be on the data bus, themselves aren't proprietary," he clarified, "but it is saying that their interfaces to the rest of the world are open and standard."
"Our work with VICTORY is part of our long tradition of focusing on open system standards to provide our customers with the greatest possible flexibility," said John Ormsby, Vice President for Marketing and Sales at CWCDS. "We've focused on that for many years. A key part of our business is COTS-based. In fact, our Defense Solutions group is one of the largest providers of COTS solutions in the military electronics market. Nobody has more of those types of products than we do. So our work with VICTORY reflects a continuation of our leadership in that regard. We are happy to see the VICTORY standard come into the Army, and we look forward to taking a leading position in adopting it and using it to our customers' advantage, giving our customers new flexibility and modularity capabilities on various platforms - bridging back to legacy systems and going forward into the future."
Scori R. Gourley, a freelance writer, is a contributing editor to ARMY.
(c) 2012 Association of the United States Army
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