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Services improve interoperability through common data standards

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- All three military service secretaries signed a memorandum requiring common standards of information‐sharing across domains in future weapons systems.

"This is vital to our success," said Secretary of the Army Mark Esper. "After reviewing the capabilities of common standards, we have collectively determined that continued implementation, and further development of modular open systems approaches are necessary to keep our competitive advantage."

Older weapon systems were not developed with common interface standards, making interoperability more challenging.

For the past several years, each of the services has developed, demonstrated and validated common data standards through a cooperative partnership with industry and academia. These validated, shared standards enable a Modular Open Systems Approach, (MOSA), which are best practices to make systems as open and standardized as possible to make it easier for machines to talk to other machines.

The Air Force is already pursuing it with platforms such as its next‐generation bomber, the B‐21 Raider, while the Army is using these principles to modernize its ability to communicate among its maneuver units. Likewise, the Navy has seen great benefits to its submarine force by employing such approaches.

When these practices are followed, defense contractors can build systems that are interoperable across services and industry. Proven benefits of MOSA include reductions of up to 80 percent in schedule and up to 70 percent in costs.

"The ability for our systems and forces to exchange information and communicate effectively gives our warfighters the best capabilities to deliver the fight tonight," said Secretary of the Navy, Richard V. Spencer. "This reform will make us a highly integrated and more lethal fighting force."

The joint memorandum directs each service acquisition executive to publish specific implementation guidance for acquisition programs and continue to identify gaps and develop new standards when needed. The memorandum also directs that requirements and programming functions will ensure a modular open systems approach is reflected in our requirements and programs to ensure future weapon systems can communicate and share across domains.

"Victory in future conflict will in part be determined by our ability to rapidly share information across domains and platforms," said Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson. "Sharing information from machine to machine requires common standards."