WARREN, Mich. — U.S. Army leaders are using a technology standards organization called the Weapon System Technical Architecture Working Group (WSTAWG) to help ensure that its future vehicular electronics (vetronics) systems are interoperable and fit into the concept of "net-centric warfare."
Members of the working group — who include representatives from industry, government, and academia — not only are responsible for requiring real-world solutions for making fielded Army systems interoperable, but also for developing a common operating environment to support hard real-time and embedded weapon-system components.
In this way, the WSTAWG seeks to keep Army vetronics developments headed in the right direction to fit generally into the future military transformation vision, and specifically into the Army's Future Combat System, otherwise known as FCS.
"The WSTAWG looks at hardware and software architectures, and looks at the operating environment," says Dr. Grace Bochenek, executive vice president for research, and technical director, of the U.S. Army Tank and Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) in Warren, Mich.
The WSTAWG is to set up two primary areas of influence. First, the group is to collect requirements, standards, and interfaces from the embedded real-time weapon-system community, and promote these standards to inclusion in the Department of Defense Joint Technical Architecture, known as the JTA.
Second, the group is responsible for the Weapon System Common Operating Environment (WSCOE), which focuses on specifying or adopting common application programming interfaces (APIs) to meet weapon-systems requirements that existing open or commercial standards cannot fulfill.
WSCOE API standards are already becoming part of major military systems such as the Army Stryker combat vehicle family, as well as the Multi Function Sensor Staring Suite, upgrades to the Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS), as well as the Predator unmanned aerial vehicle.
The Joint Technical Architecture defines standards for military interoperability in future net-centric warfare operations. The JTA, and the Army's part of the JTA — the JTA-Army — define the service areas, interfaces, and standards applicable to U.S. military systems. The JTA is a step toward the ultimate goal of defense-wide shared situational awareness.
All Defense Department weapons programs must meet JTA requirements before they can move ahead in the procurement process.
Members of the WSTAWG include defense prime contractors Raytheon Co., The Boeing Co., Smiths Industries, United Defense LP, and General Dynamics Land Systems. The group also includes the MITRE Corp., the Society of Automotive Engineers, Teledyne Brown Engineering, and the Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
Army commands that are part of the WSTAWG are the Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center (AMRDEC) at Redstone Arsenal, Ala.; TARDEC, the Armament Research Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC) at Picatinny Arsenal, N.J.; the Natick Research, Development and Engineering Center (NRDEC) in Natick, Mass.; and the Communications-Electronics Research Development and Engineering Center (CERDEC) at Fort Monmouth, N.J.