GE Contributes to Army's VICTORY Industry Group
Advancements in many areas of electronics afford the opportunity to increase the capabilities within the fleet of military vehicles. Previous integration methods of new capabilities into military vehicles have been accomplished through a “bolt on” approach. Systems that are bolted-on to platforms most often have their own unique displays, computers, input devices, and other ancillary mechanisms. This creates many challenges such as size, weight, and power (SWaP) issues from hardware duplication, overcrowding of crew areas, and large system life-cycle costs. Figure 1 shows the problems facing VICTORY today.
The Army has recognized this challenge and has created a new initiative to support the streamlining of the integration process for Army platforms. The Vehicular Integration for C4ISR/EW Interoperability (VICTORY) industry group is comprised of Army Program Offices and commercial suppliers dedicated to the development of a framework for integrating Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) and Electronic Warfare (EW) systems on military ground vehicles, and interfacing with the vehicle systems. Stryker, Abrams, and Ground Combat Vehicle are programs which will utilize this framework for future capabilities. GE Intelligent Platforms is an active participant in the VICTORY effort to guide technical aspects of the architecture which will influence the future of GE’s next generation products.
The aim of the VICTORY initiative is to ensure the following goals:
- Eliminate where possible “bolt-on” systems
- Significantly reduce SWaP
- Introduce a flexible network-centric framework
- Maximize portability and interoperability
- Support current and future information assurance requirements
The outcome of these VICTORY goals is the development of a framework made up of:
- An architecture, which defines common terminology, systems, components, and interfaces
- A standard set of technical specifications
- A set of reference designs, which provide guidance to create designs against various requirements
The framework described above follows a guided process to specify the technical details of a system, application, component or interface. From this specification, change proposals are generated, reviewed, discussed, and debated. Once the change proposals are vetted, specifications are modified to incorporate these change proposals into revision control. Revisions are then combined and aggregated to a VICTORY specification with maturity levels of capabilities denoted. Ongoing experiments add reference designs for specific capabilities noted in the VICTORY architecture.
To develop this framework, there are three working groups identified within the VICTORY architecture: Data Bus, Information Assurance, and Application Interfaces.
The Data Bus working group addresses the core data concepts for VICTORY. The VICTORY Data Bus (VDB) is a central structure of the architecture. The VDB offers an open network-centric infrastructure comprising data transport, routing, and quality of service capabilities. Shared services such as time synchronization, position, and orientation are also included in the VDB. The VDB management capabilities not only provide system-level but also component-level functions through device, application, and subsystem management.
The Application Interfaces (AI) working group is responsible for developing interfacing capabilities to a variety of C4ISR and EW systems. Figure 2 depicts the systems which VICTORY plans to incorporate into the overall architecture.
Each system has its own unique requirements. The AI working group reviews each of these capabilities to determine a synergistic approach for managing and interfacing these capabilities within a military vehicle. The outcome of each application interface is a specification of data which can be transported across the VDB.
The Information Assurance (IA) working group develops strategies and reference architectures for incorporating security into a VICTORY architecture. Protection of data at rest and in transit through inline network encryption is a must for data security. Access control services such as authentication and authorization provide mechanisms to determine who can see what data. Firewalls, intrusion detection and protection systems provide internal security for networked systems while a cross-domain solution provides transfer of data from a secure data source to an unsecured source.
The VICTORY architecture and specifications follow a timed release of capabilities. The initial revision of the VICTORY architecture was released on February 2011, and subsequent releases with expanded capabilities will be made on a quarterly basis through June 2014. At present, VICTORY specifications and documentation are Distribution D (US only); however, the VICTORY Standards Committee (VSSO) is working to migrate the documents to Distribution A (open distribution).
Initiatives such as the U.S. Army’s ‘VICTORY’ Vehicular Integration for C4ISR/electronic warfare interoperability specification are indicative of a trend that pushes networks to the battlefield edge, driving the need for mobile, secure network devices. GE Intelligent Platforms is actively participating in this initiative, which is helping to shape current and future product platforms.