Grand Designers

The right team will give the Royal Australian Navy a strong capability advantage

Systems Architects: Designing combat systems that work

Systems Architects: Designing combat systems that work

Orchestrating a successful design – from a house to a submarine combat system - requires the expertise of a trained architect to lay the foundations.

Failure to engage this skill-set from the outset may result in a structure that is undermined by its own foundations. Mitigating this risk means early and continuous collaboration between the architect and key stakeholders for the life of the project.

For the success of Australia’s future submarine program (SEA 1000), early engagement between the Platform Systems Integrator (PSI) and the Combat System Integrator (CSI) is crucial.

While the Australian Federal Government’s competitive evaluation process will determine who will design its future submarine, consideration also needs to be given to the value that a CSI and a team of system architects and engineers bring to complex projects.

Their contribution will be integral to providing the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) with a world-class, in-country capability advantage.

Enterprise Architects vs. Solution Architects

There is an important distinction between enterprise architects and solution architects. While enterprise architecture is primarily concerned with developing a plan to enhance the general operational effectiveness of the program, solution architecture refers to the structure behind a specific component. Typically, a solution architect may also be called a combat system architect or a system architect. 

To mitigate significant risks to the project, enterprise architecture must be addressed before solution architecture.

It is the responsibility of the combat system architect to partition and define a range of suitable combat system components by managing, simplifying and analysing the full breadth of enterprise complexity. This process requires the system architect to behave as an intermediary between the customer and technology functions to gauge stakeholder needs, wants and requirements. It is their responsibility to then develop a range of customer compliant solutions, able to be modified to accommodate future evolutions in capability and technology.

Early engagement with stakeholders will ensure the system architect develops a thorough understanding of the combat system intricacies and requirements, and be well-placed to advise on the impact that future design modifications will have on issues such as:

  • System behaviour and performance
  • System boundaries
  • System safety and security
  • Human factors integration
  • Size, weight and power, and cooling constraints
  • Schedule and cost
  • Availability of the platform.

Further benefits of early engagement includes the ability to influence the design program to fit within shorter availability windows, or delivering efficiencies which can be reinvested for the longer term benefit of the combat system.

An example of the value a CSI and team of system architects brings to complex programs is Raytheon Australia’s involvement as CSI on the AWD program. In particular, the presence of certified system architects contributed to meeting combat system cost, delivery and performance objectives.  

Successes associated with this program reflect Raytheon Australia’s 15-plus-year partnership with the RAN through performance-based contracts and its local workforce's expertise in submarine and surface combatant combat system integration.

Ensuring the success of SEA 1000 means looking beyond platform design. It will require input from the CSI and team of system architects and engineers. Their responsibility will be to identify who the relevant stakeholders are and generating solutions to meet their requirements. Mitigating risks associated with complex programs means early and ongoing collaboration between these individuals, allowing them to develop a comprehensive understanding of combat system requirements.  

In testifying to the value of these elements and to maintain a capability edge, we look to the ongoing partnership between Raytheon Australia and the RAN, which includes insights gained from experiences on the Collins class submarine and AWD projects.

Published On: 10/01/2015
Last Updated: 12/07/2017