Best opportunities in defense electronics revolve around advanced intelligence systems

FOUNTAIN HILLS, Ariz.-Advanced intelligence systems with supercomputing power are among the most promising and profitable areas in aerospace and defense electronics for the foreseeable future, say officials of the VITA Open Standards, Open Markets embedded computing trade association in Fountain Hills, Ariz.

Demand for basic, traditional embedded computing systems in aircraft, ships, and ground vehicles, meanwhile, will be small, says VITA Executive Director Ray Alderman in a report, entitled "2012 State of the VITA Technology Industry."

"It is clear that military board and box suppliers will need to look for the most promising sub-segments of the MIL market, and focus on the most promising opportunities," Alderman says in the report. "It's time for vendors to sub-segment the MIL markets to find gold."

Traditional commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) board vendors serving the aerospace and defense market may not see numerous lucrative opportunities in the near future. "Will the military buy more pure COTS to reduce their total costs?" Alderman asks. The answer: "Not really."

The defense business will be tough for embedded computing manufacturers, just as it is for major systems integrators and prime contractors, Alderman points out. "The military markets are experiencing severe uncertainty at this stage," he says. "Procurement contracts at the Pentagon are paralyzed, with the exception of a few advanced system designs."

The brightest opportunities in the aerospace and defense embedded computing market involve radar, sonar, signals intelligence (SIGINT), communications intelligence (COMINT), and electronic warfare (EW), Alderman says. Even in these areas, contracts issued are low volume, and for existing platforms.

As U.S. military forces continue to focus on "asymmetrical" warfare, the Pentagon will concentrate more on cyber weapons than they do on traditional weapons; that means more software than hardware, Alderman says.

Major trends in military embedded systems design revolve around the tight integration of sensors, RF front ends for data collection, and data processors in the same backplane. "It is only a few short years before we tightly integrate the knowledge, decision, and action phases of intelligence into the existing data-collection and -analysis phases," Alderman says.

The VITA report is available for download at

To access this Article, go to: