White Papers

Solving the Defense Systems Computer Obsolescence Issue

David Beberman


Defense systems rely heavily on embedded software for large aspects of their capabilities. De­fense systems have life expectancy that can be effectively infinite with respect to the rate of change of com­puter technology. Some defense systems have life expectancies beyond fifty years, while most comput­er components have life expectancies of less than three years.

For decades, defense systems readiness has struggled with obsolescence of computer hardware compo­nents, software operating systems and software programming languages. The applica­tion software of­ten has implicit dependencies on specific computer hardware components such as a particular CPU ar­chitecture, computer board memory map layout, specific operating sys­tem or other difficult to discern aspects. Programming languages rise and sink in popularity impacting the pool of skilled programmers to develop, maintain and expand the capabilities of a defense system dependent on a specific program­ming language. Incrementally expanding or upgrading computer components of defense systems be­comes intractable leaving the limited choices of freezing existing systems or undertaking costly com­plete replacements from “ground up”.


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