With the initiative of MOSA, products and systems will be updatable and more cost-effective than in the past. Once called Open Systems Architecture or Open Systems Approach, the addition of “Modular” emphasizes the need for system platform interfaces that can maximize how well interoperable modular components built by different companies across different eras will perform together, both today and in the future, while adhering to budget constraints.

The U.S. Department of Defense breaks down MOSA into five key objectives:

  • Significant cost savings or cost avoidance
  • Schedule reduction and rapid deployment of new technology
  • Opportunities for technical upgrades and refreshes
  • Interoperability, including system of systems and mission integration
  • Other benefits during the sustainment phase of a major system

Why is MOSA important? MOSA is important because the defense systems, vehicles, technologies, and other equipment of the U.S. military and its allies must be upgradeable to avoid becoming obsolete. Conversely, upgrades that only work on limited set of ships, vehicles aircraft or communications systems, etc. are inefficient, laborious, and more expensive than desired. A key focus of MOSA is designing modular interface commonality with the intent to reduce costs and enhance sustainability efforts that are central to the ongoing readiness of defense equipment over its effective lifecycle.

Essential to achieving MOSA standardization is that it also assigns modular standards specific to the various systems used by DoD and Homeland Security –Army, Navy and Air Force. Currently, those standards include:

  • OMS (Open Mission Systems) for military aviation weapons systems, services, and subsystems
  • FACE (Future Airborne Capability Environment) for aircraft systems software
  • OpenVPX / VITA for a broad range of electronic hardware systems
  • MORA (Modular Open RF Architecture) to maximize radio frequency capabilities and flexibility
  • VICTORY (Vehicle Integration for C4ISR/EW Interoperability), a network/intra-platform standard
  • Redhawk, a framework for software-defined radio (SDR)
  • CMOSS (C5ISR/EW Modular Open Suite of Standards), which includes FACE, VPX/VITA, MORA, VICTORY, Redhawk, and others
  • WOSA (Weapon Open Systems Architecture), a framework for munitions development

In addition to the broad benefit of making defense products and systems more cost-effective with more interoperability, MOSA is also designed to spur competition among defense and intelligence community partners. The modularity central to MOSA standards can give small or specialized companies more openings to develop solutions for specific modules instead of losing opportunities because they didn’t develop the entire vehicle, aircraft, ship, or communication system, etc. that needs an upgrade. The DoD itself also wins by encouraging innovative solutions from a broader spectrum of allied forces.

Finally, it is important to recognize that MOSA is not just a good idea, it’s a legal requirement – specifically Title 10 U.S. Code 2446a.(b), Sec 805 of DoD Acquisition Regulations. That gives all those in the defense community more equitable footing by assuring that each adhere to the same goal of modular-focused systems engineering and design standards.


This information page is provided as a service to our readers by BAE Systems, Inc., a U.S.-based world leader in aerospace, defense, power, and intelligence solutions. Learn more about us here.

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