The Air Force has stood up an open architecture program within its Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) in an effort to expand the use of open systems in the service’s acquisition efforts, according to a key official.

Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Military Deputy, Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch said Tuesday the service moved its Open Mission Systems (OMS), a specific set of standards used to design open architecture mission systems for aircraft, out of its elite Rapid Capabilities Office (RCO) to and into the LCMC. The new LCMC organization will be called the Open Architecture Management Office (OAMO), according to Air Force spokesman Capt. Michael Hertzog.

Artist's rendering of the Air Force's Long Range Strike Bomber, designated B-21. Photo: Air Force.
The Air Force infused open architecture requirements into its B-21 contract. Photo: Air Force.

Bunch said OAMO, which has reached initial operational capability (IOC), is developing standard processes that all program managers will have to look at as they’re trying to design and start new acquisition programs. Bunch said this new program office will provide examples of how open architecture requirements have been successfully used in previous requests for proposals (RFP).

Program managers had been previously afraid to use open architecture requirements as they came out of RCO and were used in limited instances, Bunch said. One of six centers under Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC), AFLCMC is the single center responsible for total life cycle management of Air Force weapon systems.

Bunch said although the Air Force will emphasize open architecture requirements in new contracts moving forward so it can drive competition across the life cycle, the service also wants to implement open architecture requirements into legacy platforms. The Air Force, he said, needs to do a better job educating its workforce on how to use open architecture requirements moving forward.

Open architecture is the ability for the Defense Department to modernize platforms or systems by upgrading parts of platforms, as opposed to having to acquire, develop and field a whole new system. This allows the Pentagon to modernize and improve its capabilities faster and cheaper via competition. Bunch said the Air Force is even bringing open architecture requirements down to the subcomponent and component levels.

“We’re looking at this in in a variety of different ways so we can inculcate this thinking of modular and open across all of our platforms, including space assets and everything else we’re trying to do,” Bunch told an audience at Defense Daily’s Open Architecture Summit in Washington.

The Air Force put open architecture requirements into its B-21 contract, Bunch said, and plans to use it on its Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS) recapitalization program. Bunch said the service has also demonstrated open architecture utilization on legacy programs like the B-2, U-2 and B-52 ground systems.