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Plug-and-play hardware approach to modernize Army networked-vehicle capabilities

JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. — It’s down the stretch for the Army’s annual network modernization experimentation event, with one capability proving its potential to transform the way...

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Plug-and-play hardware approach to modernize Army networked-vehicle capabilities

By Kathryn Bailey, PEO C3T Public Affairs  July 15, 2021

JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. — It’s down the stretch for the Army’s annual network modernization experimentation event, with one capability proving its potential to transform the way Soldiers communicate and access new technologies inside Army vehicles.

The C5ISR/EW Modular Open Suite of Standards (CMOSS) enables the Army to insert cards, each embedded with networked capabilities such as Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT), mission command applications, or radio waveforms, into a common ruggedized chassis inside a tactical vehicle. This approach provides a plug-and-play alternative to custom-installing and upgrading individual communications systems, with significant size, weight, and power savings.

The initial CMOSS capability will be fielded with the Army’s network Capability Set (CS) 23, featuring electronic warfare capabilities, and will provide additional cards with more capabilities in CS25.

CMOSS development is accelerating, including during the Network Modernization Experiment (NetModX) 2021, when engineers demonstrated for the first time an initial converged C5ISR solution on a Stryker combat vehicle, which is a major component of meeting fielding standards.

CMOSS Cards

“We tested the interoperability of a PNT card, TSM radio waveform card, and the Army’s mounted mission command application on a card in a single chassis, while also demonstrating air-to-ground and ground-to-ground interoperability with a UH-60 and dismounted Soldier using Nett Warrior capabilities,” said Scott Newman, Technical Management chief for Project Manager Interoperability, Integration and Services (PM I2S), under Program Executive Office for Command, Control, Communications-Tactical (PEO C3T).

The ability to change out these cards rapidly means the Army can modify vehicles for different mission types to meet emerging threats and improve mounted Soldier lethality and survivability, Newman said.

NetModX is an annual event that joins scientists and engineers from the Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C5ISR) Center – part of Army Futures Command’s Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM) – and Army program of record counterparts such as PEO C3T to assess emerging network capabilities from the Army research and development community and industry. The event is conducted at the C5ISR Center Ground Activity.

Whereas CMOSS is a standard, the overall CMOSS prototype, called the CMOSS Mounted Form Factor (CMFF), is the name that describes Army programs of record's implementation of CMOSS. It features a "Universal A-Kit," which provides platforms with one or more standard chassis that are already plumbed for power, networks and radio frequency distribution.

CMOSS Chassis

As part of continued CMOSS experimentation, the CMFF team is collaborating with PEO Ground Combat Systems (GCS) to introduce CMOSS standardized enabling technologies into its product lines, including the Army’s CS25 network and platform modernization priorities for Strykers and Abrams, Newman said.

“Part of our work with prototypes here at NetModX 2021 is that we are maturing this technology so that Army programs can eventually procure new equipment in this form factor,” Newman said.

With the PNT card featured throughout the experimentation, the NetModX 2021 event also served as a risk reduction event for the CMOSS/CMFF participation in the upcoming PNT Assessment Exercise (PNTAX), hosted by the Assured PNT/Space Cross Functional Team in October, 2021. PNTAX will be integrated with Project Convergence 21, also occurring this fall, which will feature a GPS-challenged operational environment to support the Combined Joint All-Domain Command and Control concept.

State-of-the-art industry technologies are critical to CMOSS/CMFF development. Industry events such as the recent Technical Exchange Meeting (TEM 6) held in Maryland on June 2 provided the opportunity for the Army to explain how companies can adopt the necessary standards to ensure their new capabilities will plug into the chassis and be interoperable with other capabilities on the platform. Following the event, the U.S. Army Network Cross-Functional Team (N-CFT) and PEO C3T announced a call for white papers, which are due on July 20, to begin the process of selecting industry partners to further advance Army CMOSS programs.

Stryker CMOSS

“The TEM also provided industry with roadmaps on where the Army is going with CMOSS and where industry has opportunities to provide technology to us,” Newman said.

During NetModX 2021, six vendors demonstrated various products in a CMOSS form factor that can be easily inserted into the chassis.

“By enabling programs to rapidly insert new technologies, we keep relevant technologies at our disposal and we create more competition,” said Paul Terzulli, project officer for CMFF/CMOSS, PM I2S.

To further drive industry participation, the Army is also participating in public-private partnerships such as Cooperative R&D Agreements and ongoing participation in the Sensor Open Architecture Consortium, which is an industry forum that pulls in U.S Department of Defense and academia to develop standards that are consistent across the services.

“It’s critical that all of the services apply the same standards should the Army seek to integrate a capability developed by the Air Force or Navy, or vice versa,” Terzulli said.

With the CMFF prototype effort at NetModX 2021 completed, the Army will continue to refine CMOSS capabilities by ramping up additional lab and field experiments.

“All of these experiments are leading us from prototype to production,” Terzulli said. “The rapid technology insertion aided by CMFF and CMOSS is critical to enable the Army to fight and win against its current and future adversaries.”

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The U.S. Army Program Executive Office Command, Control and Communications-Tactical develops, acquires, fields and supports the Army's mission command network to ensure force readiness. This critical Army modernization priority delivers tactical communications so commanders and Soldiers can stay connected and informed at all times, even in the most austere and hostile environments. PEO C3T is delivering the network to regions around the globe, enabling high-speed, high-capacity voice, data and video communications to a user base that includes the Army's joint, coalition and other mission partners.