The UK military is lagging in applying a single, standard internal IT infrastructure to all of its ground vehicles, potentially creating higher costs and reducing operational efficiency, according to military technology expert Stonewood (stonewood.co.uk). Adopting a Generic Vehicle Architecture means that IT systems across ground vehicles are standardised, becoming interoperable and adding “plug and play” capability for new technology. As a result, developing, maintaining and upgrading vehicles and their internal IT becomes much simpler and more cost effective.
“It seems ludicrous that, whilst commercial vehicle manufacturers will standardise their internal IT networks, interfaces and subsystems in order to save costs, maximise development and rapidly introduce improvements, UK military procurement is still lagging behind,” said Chris McIntosh, CEO of Stonewood. “In the era of spending cuts it is vital that future vehicles provide value for money throughout their lifespan, as well as being delivered on time, fit for purpose and able to be upgraded instead of simply replaced. The GVA provides a huge step in allowing this: whilst the short-term costs of designing and implementing the architecture across the services might seem high, they will be massively outweighed by the long-term benefits and savings. In this case, the MoD must avoid seeing only the short-term costs and ensure it addresses the future of the UK military.”
Whilst Ministry of Defence Standard 23-09 calls for the development of a Generic Vehicle Architecture for the UK military, so far little progress is being made. As a result, rather than being able to standardise and re-use technology across vehicle projects and upgrades, each new vehicle series instead remains essentially a brand-new, bespoke project. Thanks to this, vehicle projects become more expensive whilst ongoing maintenance and upgrades are also hindered, due to the inability to easily share systems with other vehicles.
This lack of interoperability between the IT systems of UK military vehicles was due to be solved, to some extent, with the introduction of the FRES programme, which would provide a variety of vehicle types with standardised architecture. However, since this has been reduced in scope, so the scale of any interoperable architecture has also diminished. At the same time, other nations, such as the US, are pushing forward with their own versions of a Generic Vehicle Architecture, with the UK running the risk of being left behind.
“It’s not enough to defer a decision on GVA indefinitely, ” continued McIntosh. “Regardless of what might seem to be high up-front costs, the time to act is now. Budgets are unlikely to rise any time soon: we need military vehicles that are adaptable, that are interoperable, and that are easily upgradeable. Whether this is through a home-grown programme or through adopting tried-and-tested technologies from other nations, we need to act swiftly and decisively on implementing a Generic Vehicle Architecture for the UK military. Hopefully, in the fallout from last year’s Strategic Defence and Security Review, this will become a top priority.”
Stonewood (stonewood.co.uk), a ViaSat Company, is an innovative British solutions-driven company that designs and manufactures the industry-leading Eclypt range of hardware encrypted drives and provides bespoke encryption and data security solutions for military and security systems.
Trusted globally by governments and defence and law enforcement agencies, as well as the world's foremost financial, banking and medical corporations, Stonewood’s solutions are widely recognised for their fit and forget, tamper-proof and fully secure solution for data encryption needs.
ViaSat produces innovative satellite and other digital communication products that enable fast, secure, and efficient communications to virtually any location. The company provides networking products and managed network services for enterprise IP applications; is a key supplier of network-centric military communications and encryption technologies and products to the U.S. government; is the primary technology partner for gateway and customer-premises equipment for consumer and mobile satellite broadband services; and owns WildBlue, the premier Ka-band satellite broadband service provider. Based in Carlsbad, Calif., ViaSat includes a number of worldwide locations for customer service, network operations, and technology development.