Architectures provide a mechanism for understanding and managing complexity. The purpose of C4ISR architectures is to improve capabilities by enabling the quick synthesis of "go-to-war" requirements with sound investments leading to the rapid employment of improved operational capabilities, and enabling the efficient engineering of warrior systems. The ability to compare, analyze, and integrate architectures developed by the geographical and functional, unified Commands, Military Services, and Defense Agencies (hereinafter also referred to as Commands, Services, and Agencies, or C/S/As) from a cross-organizational perspective is critical to achieving these objectives.
The C4ISR Architecture Framework is intended to ensure that the architecture descriptions developed by the Commands, Services, and Agencies are interrelatable between and among each organization's operational, systems, and technical architecture views, and are comparable and integratable across Joint and combined organizational boundaries.
The purpose of the C4ISR-AF is to provide assistance in the specification of architectures. Architecture itself has a number of definitions. The C4ISR-AF uses the definition of IEEE 610.12:
the structure of components, their relationships, and the principles and guidelines governing their design and evolution over time. Architectures in the C4ISR-AF have three fundamental views – operational, systems, and technical. The emphasis in each of these views is, of course, different and distinct, but they overlap to a significant degree.
The operational view is a description of the tasks and activities, operational elements, and information flows required to accomplish or support a military operation. This view includes doctrine (which in another environment might be called "business rules"), activities, and assignment of these activities to operational elements and the sequences and time frames of the execution of the activities. Operational architectures are usually independent of the systems used to implement them.
The systems view is a description of the systems and their interconnections providing for, or supporting, warfighting functions. The systems view includes the large scale elements and objects that interact to achieve the operational goals as well as their locations, interconnections and so on. The systems involved may include key nodes (including materiel), networks (as well as interconnections and interfaces), war fighting platforms, weapons systems, and so on, as well as their various qualities of service such as MTBF, maintainability, speed, capacity, availability, etc. Systems described in the systems view can be used to achieve many different operational architectures, organizations and missions. The systems view does depend on the underlying technology described in the technical view and are constrained by their limitations.
The technical view provides the minimal set of rules governing the arrangement, interaction, and interdependence of system parts or elements, whose purpose is to ensure that a conformant system satisfies a specified set of requirements. The technical view provides the basis for engineering specification of the systems in the systems view and includes technical standards. Put another way, the technical view is the engineering infrastructure that supports the systems view.
Within each of these architectural areas, the standard defines work products. The list of these products is given in Table 1. Each of these products will be discussed and in most cases a UML view that meets both the needs and intent of the product will be shown. This is illustrated through Rhapsody, a leading UML-compliant Model-driven Development Environment provided by I-Logix.
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