A mission computer for the many

It’s called COSMC, and it goes on any platform

U.S. Army helicopter maintainers inspect a MH-47 Chinook from 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment.

U.S. Army helicopter maintainers inspect a MH-47 Chinook from 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. Known as the "Night Stalkers" for their skills flying with night-vision equipment and infrared devices, the pilots and crews of this elite unit excel in navigating through enemy territory and foul weather. (U.S. Army photo)

Mission computers do a lot of work on military aircraft.

Using data from sensors, they create a clear picture of the battlefield, and control combat and weapons systems. The problem is they were purpose built to perform a specific set of functions, using proprietary software, firmware and hardware. And that makes them difficult and costly to upgrade and adapt to changing mission needs and evolving threats.

Raytheon Intelligence & Space, a Raytheon Technologies business, has solved that problem by developing a platform-agnostic mission computer that can be used on any aircraft, fixed, rotary, unmanned, or wide-body wing. It’s called Common Open Secure Mission Computer, or COSMC, pronounced “cosmic.”

“It’s purposely designed and engineered to not be reliant on any physical instances of software or hardware,” said John Stephens, RI&S product line manager for secure mission processing. “It’s scalable in size, it’s scalable in performance, and it’s scalable in operating system and hardware construction. To really fit whatever that need is.”

Because COSMC, at its core, is a computing platform, it can host and perform mission management, weapons stores, video display and switching, sensor processing, and/or data fusion functions for sea-, land- and air-based platforms.

“COSMC has multiple high-level functions depending on the platform and the mission’s capability,” said Michelle Moholt, the RI&S COSMC architect for secure mission processing. “So, for instance, if you’re using COSMC as an airborne mission computer, it would serve as the brains of the entire aircraft, whether that’s displaying weapons control or controlling sensor aperture to conducting electronic warfare or viewing the radar. It’s the hub of the plane or platform.”

The COSMC team has demonstrated the technology to the U.S. Air Force, and RI&S is looking to provide this open computing environment to multiple Army, Navy, and Air Force platforms.

COSMC is more than just compatible with different platforms. It can fit pretty much anywhere. The system is “scalable and modular, so that it can be designed into different configurations.

“We can put it on an A-10 Thunderbolt II, an E-2D Advanced Hawkeye or a Boeing 747,” Stephens said. “It scales appropriately for those types of platforms, because of the way that we have designed and modeled all of those sorts of system requirements, use cases, and customer needs.”

COSMC is using DevSecOps software development processes, meaning cybersecurity, cyber resilience, and export security “are baked in from the beginning rather than being bolted on afterwards,” Stephens said. He added that Agile development and iterative updates will allow for fielding system much more rapidly.

“With the common baseline matured, we will continually refresh it so customers will be able to grab that latest iteration when they need it,” Stephens said. “There will be continual development, integration and maturation of this architecture so we’ll be able to offer updates to customers almost ready-made.”

Customers with platforms that require only a few mission computers will be able to take advantage of economies of scale, benefiting from the lower costs to produce COSMC in large quantities for other platforms. COSMC has an open architecture, using hardware and software compliant to open standards.

“They are agnostic to a vendor, so customers aren’t going to have vendor lock with our system,” Stephens said. “They’re also not going to be locked in, working in a legacy construct of software development.”

Published On: 10/09/2020