Gone, in large part, are the days of military and aerospace (mil/aero) organizations buying a complete, comprehensive, end-to-end turnkey system from a single, solitary vendor. Rather, a vast majority of today’s mil/aero systems combine the technologies, components, and capabilities of myriad technology vendors.
Integrating parts from various vendors in a single system, like most things, has its pros and cons. Time and cost savings lead the list of positives, as does the ability to take advantage of the strengths of various technology leaders. For example, a single platform, such as an aircraft or tank, can benefit from the greatest strengths of several technology innovators. In this way, prime contractor/subcontractor relationships can contribute to only best-of-breed solutions being implemented into a single, cohesive system. Yet, this trend is not without its challenges.
If you’ve ever set up a home theater, you likely have experienced the same headaches as today’s mil/aero systems integrator or aircraft maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) engineer. This geek felt something like an MRO or systems integration specialist when surprised with a holiday gift of a do-it-yourself (DIY) home theater.
There they were all around, some of the best consumer audio/visual (A/V) hardware that money can buy. This geek didn’t see “Sony” this and “Yamaha” that, however; he saw “disparate parts”—something that keeps many an engineer awake at night.
Thankfully the home theater is far from misson- or safety-critical in nature. Mil/aero engineers, however, are often faced with the daunting task of making different and seemingly incompatible systems and components work and talk together—smoothly and without interruption—in systems essential to warfighter or public safety and mission success.
This geek would like recognize all the various mil/aero standards organizations and EDA companies like Mentor Graphics who purpose is to help all our systems get along with each other no matter where they originate.