Home' Defence Technology Review : DTR SEP 2015 Contents 39
DEFENCE TECHNOLOGY REVIEW | ISSUE 13 | SEP 2015
Effective design and implementation of open vehicle architecture will be
central to realising the full potential of the Australian Army’s next combat
ABOVE: The integration of in-vehicle sub-systems founded on
open vehicle architecture will be key to CRV mission effectiveness
and reduced crew workload, whilst also facilitating seamless
future technology insertions and upgrade. Image: US Army
Open architecture is not a fad. It is not even a new idea. But
where is it heading? Is a plug-and-play future possible, or is plug-
and-pray more likely? If Apple can develop iOS and Google can
develop Android, can the military do the same? Or is this nice in
theory but difficult in practice?
An examination of the options for open architecture for
military vehicles reveals two systems – one from the US and the
other from the UK.
The US system is known as Vehicle Integration for C4ISR/
EW Interoperability (VICTORY). But this is more a standard
architecture for data exchange than a full open architecture.
VICTORY is designed to enable two systems to exchange
messages without additional hardware or software.
The UK system is called Generic Vehicle Architecture (GVA).
It is much broader than VICTORY with established standards for
power, safety and architecture as well as data. This might explain
why the Australian Army appears to be leaning towards GVA
with the CRV requirement.
GVA can trace its origins back to the 1980s with UK Ministry
of Defence (MoD) research programs such as Systematic
Approach to Vehicle Electronics and Vehicle Electronics Research
Defence Initiative. This was followed in the 1990s with the
Vehicle Standards Architecture and Vehicle Systems Integration
programs. These programs informed the approaches that the
UK MoD has taken to its more recent wheeled armoured vehicle
programs – TRACER (Tactical Reconnaissance Armoured
Combat Equipment Requirement) and FRES UV (Future Rapid
Effects System – Utility Vehicle). Finally in 2010, the UK MoD
released the standard DEF STAN 23-09 – the Generic Vehicle
This standard has since led the way and set the scene for the
development of generic vehicle architecture for NATO.
DEF STAN 23-09 outlines the thinking behind GVA as: “The
purpose of DEF STAN 23-09 is to enable the MoD to realise the
benefits of an open architecture approach to land platform design
and integration, especially in regard to platform infrastructure
and the associated human machine interface, in order to improve
operational effectiveness across all Defence lines of development,
reduce integration risks and reduce the cost of ownership
across the fleet. This is achieved by mandating and applying the
appropriate interface standards.”
Some of the guiding principles of GVA include:
NATO Generic Vehicle
Architecture – the future
for Land 400?
FOR SOME TIME, the Australian Army has been investigating
open vehicle architectures for its new platforms. One of the
requirements for the Land 400 Combat Reconnaissance Vehicle
(CRV) reflects this: “The Vehicle shall employ open architectures
to enable incremental system development and component
The term ‘system’ is oft used in discussions about vehicle design and
in the case of open vehicle architecture can be described as: those
technologies used in the military environment that satisfy vehicle
platform, propulsion, protection and control and related functions such as
C4ISR/electronic warfare capabilities.
A system may provide external interfaces to other systems and internal
interfaces between its component sub-systems. These interfaces may
be used to exchange data, information or other ser vices. Systems can
range in scale from a component, such as a sensor or computer, to a
functional collection, such as a vehicular power management system or
local communication system, to a distributed capability, such as an entire
battlefield information network. – ‘Approaches to Open Technology
Systems Specification’, Land Operations Division, DSTO
• Applicability to current and future systems
• Open, modular and scalable architectures and systems
• Facilitate technology insertion; and
• Not implement in hardware any functionality that could be
implemented in software
Recognising the high levels of stress a vehicle crew experience
during combat, GVA requires the human machine interface
(HMI) design to be intuitive so the crew can use it under such
conditions, including the display of information in such a way as
to be unambiguous. “The HMI shall be designed such that the
user can control the vehicle’s sub-systems to the required level of
performance, while the vehicle is moving over the full range of
terrain types on which it will operate”.
The GVA also plays a key role in data collection, specifying that
vehicles should include a health usage and monitoring system
(HUMS). Part of this approach is for HUMS to record system
failures, predict whether a unit might be failing and inform the
crew of the remaining working life of critical systems.
In 2012, the European Defence Agency established a project
known as Land Vehicle with Open System Architecture
(LAVOSAR). The goal of the project was not to develop a new
open architecture; it was to study progress across all industries
and develop a strategy for open vehicle architectures in the
military land environment. Rheinmetall acts as prime contractor
on LAVOSAR, leading a multi-national team with more than 25
LAVOSAR released its first report in March 2014. It endorsed
the UK’s GVA as a basis for standardisation in NATO.
This initiative is now known as the NATO Generic Vehicle
Architecture (NGVA) or STANAG 4754. It is currently in draft
form and scheduled for release in 2016.
The future direction of both GVA and NGVA is relevant to
Land 400. The NGVA is an extension of GVA that meets the
broader requirements of NATO countries, and the GVA authors
have contributed heavily to NGVA. There has been particular
emphasis on integration with external systems such as unmanned
ground vehicles (UGV), unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and
If Army’s vision for the CRV becomes a reality, what will an
open architecture vehicle look like? What technologies will it use?
How will it work? Why will it be better?
The best way to understand this is to start with legacy armoured
vehicles and understand how they control their various systems.
On these vehicles, each system has its own controlling hardware.
A truly integrated crew station requires an open vehicle
architecture. Image: DSTA
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