Military & Aerospace Electronics keeps pace with sweeping changes in our industry, and in our country

Jan. 1, 2002
Welcome to the re-designed Military & Aerospace Electronics magazine. The publication's contemporary new look offers an easier read, faster navigation, streamlined organization, and improved graphics to keep pace with the ever-changing needs of the military electronics systems designer.

by John Keller
chief editor Military & Aerospace Electronics

Welcome to the re-designed Military & Aerospace Electronics magazine. The publication's contemporary new look offers an easier read, faster navigation, streamlined organization, and improved graphics to keep pace with the ever-changing needs of the military electronics systems designer.

The improvements you see with the January 2002 issue are more than just cosmetic. The magazine's new look reflects fundamental changes that have swept over our industry and our nation since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. We as Americans are a different people since the Sept. 11 attacks, and we as Military & Aerospace Electronics present an enhanced magazine on the leading edge of these changes. Our ever-evolving look and emphasis reflects not only in the magazine, but also in the twice-annual Military & Aerospace Electronics conference and trade show.

Today's Military & Aerospace Electronics still gives you, the reader, what you have come to expect since the magazine published its first issue 12 years ago. We will continue to provide you with important and up-to-date information on the latest design trends in software, electronic hardware, and optical hardware for military, space, and commercial aviation applications. We will continue to inform readers about emerging influential industry standards, important contract awards, business news of relevance to our community, and efforts to squeeze out the most system performance at the lowest possible price.

Yet today Military & Aerospace Electronics is your source for electronics design trends for applications in homeland security, reconnaissance, surveillance, and counter-terrorism. Special graphic icons identify the most important counter-terrorism stories. The terrorist attacks and the ensuing global hunt for its perpetrators have shifted focus among those designing and procuring defense electronics, and our magazine keeping pace with this transition step-by-step. In addition, our former Product Application Design Solutions section today is simply called Product Applications. It gets rid of an awkward name, yet retains the section's content on new products that are real solutions to today's design problems.

Re-thinking COTSKeeping pace with changes in our industry also compels us to refine our strategy on prevailing systems design strategies that revolve around so-called commercial off-the-shelf hardware and software, which almost every knows better simply as COTS. Well, starting now, we in the Military & Aerospace Electronics franchise — which includes the magazine, the forthcoming buyer's guide, the conferences, a site on the World Wide Web, and a twice-monthly electronic newsletter — are re-thinking what we have come to know as COTS.

Our broad reconsideration of COTS, however, does not mean that Military & Aerospace Electronics is walking away from the spirit of COTS, and what the COTS movement has come to mean for our industry — far from it.

Then-Defense Secretary William Perry launched the COTS movement in 1994 with his famous memo that turned military procurement on its head. With that memo, Perry ordered his military program managers and their contractors to use commercially developed technology wherever possible. Only in rare cases — where no other design approach was possible — would he allow custom-designed electronics for military applications only. His reasons for doing this today are obvious, but that then represented a revolutionary paradigm shift.

With his memo, Perry essentially sought to prevent military systems designers from repeatedly re-designing the wheel. He acknowledged that the most-advanced electronic technology resided in the commercial, not in the military sector where it had for decades previously. Using commercially developed technology in military systems, Perry insisted, would shift the lion's share of expensive development to the commercial sector where massive economies of scale could easily amortize over a short period of time. With COTS, he said, military systems designers could use the most-advanced technology at a reasonable price — something we know today instinctively.

Today, eight years later, COTS no longer represents a hot new trend; it simply is the way we do business. When it came on the scene, COTS introduced a host of new design challenges, which systems designers are coming to grips with, such as rapid component obsolescence, difficult traceability, and an often-unreliable long-term supply chain. Yet here we are. Most of us are dealing with these COTS-related design issues and have a reasonable idea where we are going. And that is the reason that where once our magazine referred to COTS design, today we simply refer to as military and aerospace electronic design.

The first manifestation of this transition you will see is the renaming of what we formerly called the magazine's COTS Watch section to the Design Watch section. The rules are the same — design with a balanced approach of using the most advanced components possible at the lowest possible price, to build systems that operate reliably over time in their intended environments. Only the name is changed to reflect what we are, who we are, and what we do today. We design military and aerospace electronics systems, not necessarily just COTS systems. The COTSwatch icon will still identify the most important stories with COTS content, when necessary.

Next, we are re-naming our twice-annual conference and trade show that formerly was known simply as COTScon. The next event, set for May 15 and 16 at the Baltimore Convention Center in Baltimore, will be the Military & Aerospace Electronics Show. Once again, the emphasis of this event is on interactive presentations and discussions of smart military and aerospace electronics design, not only of COTS design.

So now when you think of Military & Aerospace Electronics magazine, please do not think of us so much as changed, but as better, contemporary, and indicative of new generations of military and aerospace electronics design as we move forward in the 21st Century.

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