J-UCAS Common Operating System (COS)
J-UCAS provided a unique capability for conducting complex, dangerous operations against capable adversaries over deep, denied territory, without putting our human crews at risk. Its unique architecture, involving multiple, capable high performance air vehicles integrated through a Common Operating System provides an unprecedented level of flexibility to the warfighter in coping with a vast array of contemporary threats, including the most sophisticated integrated air defense systems. The inherent interoperability of J-UCAS, along with its approach to flexible basing, provides a versatile capability with the promise of significantly reducing acquisition and support costs.
A unique attribute of this program is the coordinated development of a Common Operating System (COS) that will provide the mission functionality for the unmanned combat air vehicles within the system. The COS is being developed by the two vehicle prime contractors in collaboration with Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory serving as the integrator/broker. This consortium-like business arrangement also permits other technology contributors to provide advanced software applications and "best of breed" algorithms.
The network centric nature of the J-UCAS, along with the need for collaboration and synchronization coupled with the demanding mission timelines, drives the need for a Common Operating System. A major factor motivating the development of the Common Operating System is the level of integration and interoperability implied by the J-UCAS concept. J-UCAS is not a single ground station and a single platform, but a collection of platforms, as well as multiple control elements all linked together with the infrastructure and support systems to provide a single, seamless integrated capability. The system should be versatile in performing its various mission functions. The J-UCAS elements therefore, have to be intra-operable as well as inter-operable with outside elements of the system.
Another motivating factor for the Common Operating System is the level of autonomy versus human-in-the-loop operation needed during the operation of the J-UCAS. This balance between the two at any given point in the mission is dictated by the actual mission itself. A Common Operating System is needed to manage this balance. This Common Operating System is being designed so that it can, in effect, host a number of other configurations that might be required to pursue missions of a similar type as we move into the future and the requirements for the existing platforms change.
The Common Operating System provides the autonomous system 'intelligence' for the overall J-UCAS. The Common Operating Systems (COS) enables interoperability among multiple air vehicles and control stations, facilitating the integration of other system components such as sensors, weapons, and communications. The COS encompasses the software architecture, algorithms, applications and services that provide command and control, communications management, mission planning, much of the interactive autonomy, the human systems interface and the many other qualities associated with the J-UCAS system. The J-UCAS system architecture will ensure intra-operability between the internal components of J-UCAS and inter-operability with external elements such as manned aircraft, command and control centers, and space assets.
The J-UCAS concept is unique among UAV systems primarily in its use of an "operating system" as the central integrating mechanism for the major system components. Traditionally, UAV systems have been designed around their hardware architectures, with federated software components to match the hardware elements. This approach will allow J-UCAS to be intraoperable as well as inter-operable with outside elements of the system.
The integrator-broker role won by the Johns Hopkins APL team is a unique one in systems development, driven by the construct of the COS consortium. The two air vehicles primes collaborated on the common set of system capabilities allocated to the COS. This common functionality enables inter-vehicle operations and machine-to-machine interaction necessary for the system to perform effectively in its difficult mission environment. To facilitate collaboration between the air vehicle primes, JHU APL was engaged as an informed, neutral third party to facilitate, coordinate, and, if necessary, complete the development of the J-UCAS enterprise architecture and the integration of the COS. Their level of involvement depended, to a great extent, on the level of cooperation between the air vehicle primes within the consortium framework.
The Consortium was formed to create the most capable and versatile system level functionality possible using "best-of-breed" algorithms and other world class solutions to enable competitive J-UCAS functionality at an affordable cost to the government. The Consortium made decisions about the COS in a collaborative manner, selecting technologies and their providers, resolving conflicts among the participants, and integrating the COS as a separate system.
JHU-APL acted as the configuration manager for the COS development effort; providing an electronic, WEB-Based collaborative environment; administering and coordinating technology competitions; administering certain Technology Contributor subcontracts; and remaining free from conflicts of interest to fulfill its role as the government's trusted agent. Boeing and Northrop Grumman are initial members of the consortium, with primary roles as COS technology developers, and integrators of COS into their respective platforms.
Technology Contributors (TCs) contribute algorithms, software functionality, and technology solutions to the COS as authorized by the Consortium Management Council (CMC). The Consortium's process for selecting TCs is coordinated by the Integrator-Broker. Furthermore a team consisting of the Integrator-Broker and the primes evaluates the subject technology. Finally, a Procurement Review Board made up of Consortium Members convenes to make the final selection decision. The TCs are not a party to the Articles of Collaboration of the COS Consortium and are not Consortium members. Rather, they are subcontractors to the Integrator/Broker.
The integrator-broker plays a variety of roles within the Common Operating System (COS) consortium, some of which depend on how effectively its members cooperate, collaborate and integrate their activities. As the integrator-broker, the baseline effort for Johns Hopkins University APL involves facilitating and coordinating the development and testing of the COS, encompassing the J-UCAS enterprise architecture, COS software development, and the selection of technology contributors to provide requisite functionality for the COS. In this role, APL developed and maintained an executable J-UCAS architectural model, provide available infrastructure to support technology identification and evaluation, and maintain configuration control of Interface Control Documents and COS software releases.
There was no requirement to share proprietary data. The Common Operating System is based on an open system architecture construct that invokes (mostly) commercial standards. The underpinning software infrastructure of the COS is government owned. There is no requirement to share proprietary data or information for software applications used in the COS. One of APL's roles as the integrator-broker is to protect intellectual property belonging to consortium participants. Vehicle makers can independently make decisions as to what data they wish to share.
A key Integrator-Broker role is to facilitate collaboration among the members of the consortium to assure the efficient development and maturation of the COS. There wes no requirement to guide discussions between primes on data sharing, per se, other than common use information required for COS integration.
As the integrator-broker, APL is providing a unique capability to the members of the consortium as an "impartial broker" in the resolution of issues and the selection of enabling technologies, free of conflict of interest. APL has no direct role as a COS technology contributor nor as a platform integrator, both of which are roles filled by the air vehicle primes.
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