The future of warfare can be characterized as having a near global battle space. Key features include global situational awareness achieved through distributed yet integrated and interoperable sensors, communications, and knowledge-management systems and highly responsive strike achieved by precision weapons with global reach. Global operations will be conducted by distributed integrated and interoperable forces that can be rapidly constituted and reconstituted to act and focus power with unity of purpose. The future of warfare is about capability delivered by "systems of systems" operating as a single system.
The term "system of systems (SoS)" is used in this document to describe an integrated force package of interoperable systems acting as a single system to achieve a mission capability. Typical characteristics include a high degree of collaboration and coordination, flexible addition or removal of component systems, and a net-centric architecture. Individual systems in the SoS may be capable of independent operations and are typically independently managed. An example would be an Expeditionary Strike Group acting to provide coordinated naval fires. The capabilities provided by each constituent system operating within the SoS are framed by the integrated force package architecture. The OUSD (AT&L) "Guide to System of Systems Engineering1" provides the following definition for a SoS:
"a set or arrangement of systems that results when independent and useful systems are integrated into a larger system that delivers unique capabilities."
Unique challenges presented by the SoS are also identified as follows:
• Governance Organization: Institutions, structures of authority and collaboration to allocate resources and coordinate or control activity. A governance organization is critical to the synchronized and effective management and integration of multiple, independent program and systems into a system of systems.
• Integration and Interoperability: Assurance of interoperability between the constituent systems at multiple levels- physical, logical, semantic, and syntactic- to allow the necessary communication and connectivity across the system of systems.
• Portfolio Management: The availability of a diverse set of constituent and integrateable systems is important to allow the necessary and potential configurations for the system of systems.
• Flexibility and Agility: The SoS will likely have to operate in the context of an evolving concept of operations to address an evolving threat. Flexibility and agility are often important characteristics for a SoS.
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