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Collins Aerospace Advancing Rapid Capabilities Evolution Through Open Systems

At Collins Aerospace, we understand the need for a more agile, connected battlespace. We achieve this through open systems. Our customers consistently mention these recurring challenges:  

  • Breaking vendor lock 
  • Leveraging new and commercial technologies more quickly 
  • Speeding the development and deployment of new capabilities to the warfighter, while minimizing impacts to airworthiness certifications

With vitally important generational efforts such as the Next-Generation Air Dominance platform and the Advanced Battle Management System ramping up, maximum flexibility and openness is increasingly important. At this month’s Air, Space & Cyber Conference we are exhibiting several capabilities aimed at helping the Air Force tackle its biggest challenges. 

An Open Systems Leader

Developing open systems for three decades, Collins is uniquely positioned to provide solutions that allow our warfighters to continually adapt and overcome a threat environment that seemingly changes daily. Through our open and modular avionics, mission and connectivity solutions, we offer a cost-effective approach that allows customers to protect their previous investments while also upgrading and fielding new technologies more frequently. 

Software Open Standards

The DOD favors more open and readily upgradable systems. For example, the Future Airborne Capability Environment or FACE™ focuses on developing reusable, portable software components, providing many benefits to end customers considering ‘from scratch’ software development, which can be a large cost driver for military programs. 

Through our active involvement in the open standards community, we realize this new environment requires a new way of thinking. As a founding member of the FACE Consortium, Collins has been closely involved in advancing and maturing this critical multi-service open standard. Additionally, we have taken the lessons learned over the past 10 years and applied them to our product development efforts.

We remain committed to developing FACE Certified products. Many of our products completed the official FACE Conformance Certification process and are listed within the FACE Registry. Examples include: 

  • MFMS-1000 which provides civil-certifiable RNP RNAV navigation, flight plan management and guidance capabilities 
  • LVPC-1000 Localizer Performance with Vertical Guidance Calculator 
  • Auto Avoidance Re-router (ARR-7000), to name a few. 

Raytheon Technologies, our parent company, has the most FACE-conformant software components outside operating systems than any other company.

Collins is also a founding member of the Open Mission Systems (OMS) program Collaborative Working Group (CWG). We have remained actively involved in the development of the OMS and Universal Command and Control Interface (UCI) standards as well as the tools used to support development of Open Architecture Management (OAM) compliant systems. In addition, Collins remains an active participant in various experimentation and industry events. Collins’ sensors, including its SYERS-2C and MS-177A, have been used in multiple demonstration and flight test events integrating OMS and Common Mission Control Center (CMCC), which required significant involvement with the CMCC consortium.

Enabling Next Gen Air Dominance. Courtesy: Collins Aerospace

Hardware Open Standards 

On the hardware side, Collins has been active in developing Hardware Open Systems (HOST) compliant capabilities for many DOD programs, including the KC-135 and KC-46. Leveraging HOST standardized framework, our product lines use 3U components including: single board computers, avionics I/O, networking video mixing, power supplies, and backplanes to build up more complete systems. A number of our cards and components are also designed to align to the Sensor Open Systems Architecture™ (SOSA™).

Our product line approach uses common and standardized hardware and software building blocks that can be reused across numerous products and platforms. This includes our mission computer product line, which conforms to the 3U form factor and OpenVPX standards. This approach results in increased modularity, interchangeability of new technology and the reuse of hardware design across legacy and future platforms. This supports our customers’ need for affordability, rapid upgrades and long-term sustainability.

Third Party Integration 

By building to common open interfaces and standards, Collins enables government customers or third parties to independently integrate new applications on our systems. Another way Collins is an industry leader in third party integration is our involvement with ARINC-661, a widely used 2D graphics industry standard for both civil and military aircraft. We self invested to develop a toolkit used by dozens of companies, ranging from small businesses to OEMs, to integrate their equipment into Collins and third-party systems. Benefits of this toolkit approach include minimizing the cost of adding new display functions to the cockpit, better managing obsolescence in a rapidly evolving environment and allowing OEMs or end users the ability to standardize their Human Machine Interface (HMI) in the cockpit.

Digital Backbone 

Our enterprise-wide open systems approach also supports ongoing efforts around developing a “digital backbone.” This approach provides technologies that are focused on providing basic infrastructure to place digitally enabled components in an aircraft and effectively maintain them over an aircraft’s lifecycle. Collins’ digital backbone also enables customers to more rapidly and frequently upgrade and integrate new products and technologies. Doing this successfully requires systems designed in such a way that third parties and other customers can readily be integrated into the environment without Collins involvement.

Another key aspect of our digital backbone efforts is ensuring that simple changes don’t impact numerous aircraft systems. To help with this, Collins has developed and demonstrated a method of securely separating safety-of-flight critical systems from other mission systems. This separation significantly shortens integration and deployment times, as certification efforts are minimized for those critical systems that are partitioned, resulting in faster airworthiness recertification. As a result, customers can more frequently upgrade, providing not only benefits to cost and schedule, but, as importantly, having aircraft systems that can evolve more rapidly than the ‘block upgrade’ cycle.


Collins Aerospace takes an enterprise approach to developing solutions architected around open systems to provide customers more control over their platforms, allow for greater mission flexibility and enable easier and faster advancements over time as new capabilities are tailored and integrated into their programs to meet evolving mission needs.

Please visit our website for additional information or contact J.R. Skola, jr.skola@collins.com, to schedule demonstrations.

About Collins Aerospace 

Collins Aerospace, a unit of Raytheon Technologies Corp. (NYSE: RTX), is a leader in technologically advanced and intelligent solutions for the global aerospace and defense industry. Collins Aerospace has the extensive capabilities, comprehensive portfolio and broad expertise to solve customers’ toughest challenges and to meet the demands of a rapidly evolving global market. For more information, visit CollinsAerospace.com