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Colonel highlights importance of open systems
BEDFORD, Mass. - Col. Scott Owens, Theater Battle Control Division senior materiel leader, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Hanscom AFB, Mass., speaks to Chuck Cherry, defense industry consultant, during the North Suburban Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Council meeting Oct. 1 at the Doubletree Bedford Glen Hotel. Owens presented a briefing at the meeting on the importance of open systems and architecture. (U.S. Air Force photo by Rick Berry)
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Colonel highlights importance of open systems

Posted 10/4/2012   Updated 10/4/2012 Email story   Print story

    


by Patty Welsh
66th Air Base Group Public Affairs


10/4/2012 - BEDFORD, Mass.  -- The role of open architecture in the next generation of battle management command and control weapon systems was the main topic during the North Suburban Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Council meeting Oct. 1 at the Doubletree Bedford Glen Hotel here.

Col. Scott Owens, Theater Battle Control Division senior materiel leader from the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Hanscom AFB, Mass., emphasized that the government needs to become an "informed customer" regarding open systems.

Playing off the Winston Churchill quote, "Gentlemen, we have run out of money, now we have to think," Owens said, "As budgets shrink, open systems and architectures along with interoperability will become more important to quickly field affordable and effective weapon systems."

Open systems begin with an architecture and set of interfaces that are well defined and broadly accepted. In addition, verification must be part of the process to test and demonstrate a system as early as possible to see if it is achieving the desired effects.

Owens knows there will be challenges ahead, including migrating the Air Force's aging infrastructure and weapon systems to more open systems.

"Billions of dollars have been spent on these fielded systems," he said. "It's going to be a tough balancing act."

Institutional constraints were another challenge he mentioned.

"The way we develop requirements and fund programs tends to be stove piped; very platform-centric," he said. "We need to overcome it in order to improve synergy across weapon systems.

To rapidly field combat capabilities, incremental deliveries will be critical. According to Owens, the issue is that the threat or technology evolves much faster than the usual acquisition and fielding timelines.

He said he realizes that the first increment won't deliver a 100 percent solution, but the strategy accelerates the most urgent or critical capabilities.

"We have to do a better job of putting capability in the warfighters' hands that isn't obsolete."

Trade-offs will certainly be required to achieve the best balance between affordability and effectiveness, he added. Costs throughout the life cycle will be receiving greater attention and schedules must also be managed more aggressively.

Owens believes that competition is a key component to controlling costs and building effective government-industry partnerships. But he added that the value of competition goes beyond achieving affordability goals; competition for ideas, innovation and best practices is also important.

"The government by itself won't drive innovation."

Dr. Frank Perry, SAIC Defense Solutions Group chief technology officer and chief systems engineer, also provided a presentation on BMC2. In addition to emphasizing a number of the points Owens had brought up, he spoke about the need to shift from vertical to horizontal architectures and emphasized the importance of a service oriented architecture.



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