2024 Predictions for Aerospace & Defense Product, Systems, and Software Development
As the aerospace & defense industry advances into 2024, we aim to gain a deeper insight into the factors propelling transformation in the development of products, systems, and software, and explore how teams within this sector are adapting to meet the challenges posed by evolving complexities.
Jama Software® asked selected thought leaders — both internal Jama Software employees and our external partners — across various industries for the trends and events they foresee unfolding over the next year and beyond.
In part two of this six-part series, we asked the following industry experts to weigh in on the aerospace & defense product, systems, and software trends they are anticipating in the coming year:
- Francois Couadau – Senior Product Manager, Ansys Embedded Software
- Guilherme Goretkin – Lead Application Engineer, Ansys
- Cary Bryczek – Director, Aerospace & Defense Solution, Jama Software
- Karl Mulcahy – Global Sales Manager, Aerospace & Defense, Jama Software
We like to stay on top of trends in other industries as well. Read our Automotive predictions HERE, Industrial & Consumer Electronics (ICE) HERE, Medical Device & Life Sciences HERE, SoftTech HERE, and Product & Engineering Teams HERE.
Design Trends – What are the biggest trends you’re seeing in your industry right now? How will they impact aerospace & defense product, systems, and software development?
Francois Couadau: There is a lot of attention, both in academia and within the industry, around Artificial Intelligence (AI) / Machine Learning (ML.). These technologies promise many exciting applications, such as single-pilot operations for cargo and commercial flights or supercharged Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities for the defense sector. They have a long way to go before they’re certified for flight, but experiments are everywhere.
Aside from this, trends from past years are still going strong: Model-Based Systems Engineering (MBSE) and the use of a Digital Thread throughout programs allows teams to tame the ever-growing complexity.
Guilherme Goretkin: Big trends towards more modular and loosely coupled architectures with open systems approaches like Modular Open Systems Approach (MOSA) and PYRAMID Reference Systems (PRA) utilizing open publicly available interoperability standards like Future Airborne Capabilities Environment (FACE) and ARINC 661 with the goals of reducing program risk, more software interoperability, reuse, and better sustainability.
Cary Bryczek: The biggest design trend is figuring out ways to incorporate AI into systems and products in a safe way.
Karl Mulcahy: I’m also seeing a need to work together as a consortium to deliver a product for an end customer. It’s fascinating to see how companies are approaching this, and working together across different networks, countries, and even industries.
Biggest Challenges – What are some of the biggest challenges you think aerospace & defense companies will be working to overcome in 2024?
Couadau: In the avionics projects domain, growing complexity and ever-shorter timelines go hand in hand and are the main challenge.
Bryczek: The biggest challenges are protecting against intellectual property (IP) loss and preventing security incidents from adversaries. Both the United States and European countries defense organization have set forth mission statements to protect technology advantage and counter unwanted technology transfer to ensure warfighter dominance through assured, secure, and resilient systems and a healthy, viable innovation base.
Mulcahy: On top of IP protection like Cary mentions, I believe there is a desire to modernize ways of working to help drive efficiencies in existing operations, but also to attract / retain new and emerging talent. By having best–of-breed tools, it can help attract best-of-breed talent and facilitate an easier way to realize innovation.
Regulations – What changing regulatory guidelines do you anticipate having an impact on companies in 2024?
Couadau: In keeping with the trends, AI/ML is currently not certifiable due to lack of specialized standards. Standardization efforts are ongoing, and we should see the first documents emerge soon.
Unstable global geopolitics may also play a part. Sanctions and embargoes may change the shape of markets.
Goretkin: Cybersecurity. “DoD [Departement of Defense] policy generally requires all acquisitions containing mission-critical or mission-critical IT systems to have a cybersecurity strategy” – GAO-23-106059 Weapon Systems Annual Assessment June 2023
Bryczek: In the US the Department of Defense will continue providing more guidance on its 2023 DoD Cyber Strategy. In 2024 you will see more guidelines provided to Defense Components as well as instructions in contracts to encourage the increase of collective cyber resilience by building the cyber capability of allies and partners. Lessons learned from the war in Russia-Ukraine has sparked commentary from Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy John Plumb to say. “It has driven home the need to work closely with our allies, partners, and industry to make sure we have the right cyber capabilities, cyber security, and cyber resilience to help deter conflict, and to fight and win if deterrence fails.”
Mulcahy: With sustainability a renewed global focus, especially with recent initiatives such as the 28th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP28), more focus will be turned to sustainability, efficiency, and developments in greener technology such as electronic / hydrogen / hybrid airborne travel. It’s exciting to see many start-ups in this domain.
Maybe we’ll see something around unmanned aerial systems regulations come to fruition – again with the increase of use cases in civilian / defense markets for these unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs.)
Tool Innovation – From an aerospace & defense engineering toolset perspective, what are some of the processes you think forward-thinking firms will be working to leverage or incorporate into their process and why?
Couadau: Model-Based System Engineering tools and methods are continuing to mature and are a key pillar for complex aerospace projects. Generative AI, applied at key spots during design, is also a key design accelerator.
Bryczek: Forward-thinking organizations will be focusing their processes and supporting tools around these areas of systems engineering: Digital Engineering, Modular Open Systems Approach (MOSA), Agile DevSecOps Development, and Mission Engineering (ME). Each of these areas touch aspects of systems engineering lifecycle management and require tools to support the newer techniques. Data integration across disparate tools such as software code version control, enterprise architecture modeling tools, requirements tools, mission simulation tools, and a variety of specialized analysis tools are some of the keys to success. Open standards such as the newest version of SysML 2.0 is driving new tool innovation from both long-standing tool vendors and companies that are new to the marketplace. Processes such as mission simulation will take place much earlier in the lifecycle and will reduce the cost of some of the Verification & Validation (V&V) efforts from traditional approaches.
Mulcahy: With digitization a big focus to start / advance with in 2024, we anticipate more discussions around MBSE (in line with SysML 2.0), but also Digital Engineering** – to connect with other tools in house and work towards a Digital Twin.
Not only could this include tools that help develop software, manage parts / simulations / detailed design aspects, but also ones that ensure validation and verification are undertaken sufficiently, proving out compliance to various industry mandates — especially when it comes to safety critical systems.
With many mergers and acquisitions continuing to be a part of this industry, re-use, collaboration, and auditability will increasingly become important. Knowing who changed things, why they were changed, and a record of the associated discussion will be invaluable as new products are designed — whether they have been designed from scratch or using existing IP. Not only would this save time understanding the complexities, but also help capture that knowledge to be able to transfer it to other organizations or teams who may not have been involved in original projects.
What role will cybersecurity play in aerospace & defense development in the coming year and beyond?
Bryczek: Cybersecurity is being prioritized nearly above all else in developing every type of system, from vehicles, to satellites, to commercial and military aircraft, and the systems that perform command and control. Any system that is connected to a network or connects to other computer systems via a removable cable, whether it is operating in an air-gapped environment, embedded within an aircraft, or touching the public internet are equally scrutinized for known vulnerabilities and are being required to adhere to security policies during development. DevSecOps strategies are putting security at the forefront during all stages of the lifecycle now instead of just being a post development process. In addition, we’re seeing organizations, more often now than ever, providing human-centric training to employees around good cybersecurity practices.
In your opinion, what are the biggest differences between aerospace & defense companies that will survive to see 2030, and ones that don’t?
Couadau: Adaptability is the name of the game. In addition to the market pressures, we are used to, the aviation industry is tasked with ambitious carbon reduction goals. International Air Transport Association (IATA) predicts that 1.8 gigatons of carbon will need to be abated yearly by 2050**. Companies that embrace this change now are bound to find success in a low-carbon future.
Bryczek: The aerospace and defense companies that retain top talent, spend design dollars wisely, and make winning partnership decisions will help companies survive to 2030.
Mulcahy: Embracing modern ways of working to enhance competitive advantage by delivering projects on time / to scope.
What advice would you give to new companies entering the aerospace & defense industry?
Bryczek: New start-ups need to embrace design-thinking principles right from the outset. Early collaboration involving the target end users such as military personnel together with the engineers, designers, and data scientists will lead to faster validation of the design’s requirements and ensure that the new capability is solving the needs of the users. Companies will also need to embrace new technologies like AI, machine learning, 3D printing, and multi-scale and multi-physics simulation.
Mulcahy: With ever-changing regulations, work with experts to help your company adhere to them. Embrace help and guidance from industry experts to allow you to focus on your new innovation to the market and not re-invent the wheel.
Furthermore, working with best-of-breed tools will allow you to attract new talent and help achieve innovation quicker.
What topic(s) do you wish companies were paying more attention to?
Bryczek: As systems become more software-centric, security regulations, especially those related to cybersecurity become increasingly more relevant and unavoidable. The updates to security frameworks such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) – and Network and Information Systems (NIS) in EMEA — as well as cybersecurity frameworks such as Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMCC) are no longer applicable only to government organizations but now extend to any contractor that is performing work for governments as well. As challenging and expensive as it might be to implement security practices and design security into applications throughout development and operations, not doing so from the beginning will cost more in the long run and in some cases might prevent going to market.
What is the biggest mistake you see companies in aerospace & defense making right now?
Bryczek: The biggest mistake I see companies make is assuming their legacy tools are good enough for today’s design and development environments. They simply aren’t. Legacy tools were built around document-based processes and not model-based or simulation techniques used in modern development environments. In the long run it costs more in man hours and license costs than the switch to more modern tooling.
Mulcahy: Agree here with Cary. Legacy tools prohibit companies from real collaboration and are often customized to outdated ways of working where support can no longer be given.
With more tools now available today, and in the future – the need to be open for integrations is more crucial than ever as we aspire towards the digital world
What is the most innovative thing you’ve seen in aerospace & defense this year that you anticipate other companies following suit in coming years?
Couadau: Many of the experienced players have already embraced Digital Engineering and are using it to come up with automated frameworks that alleviate certification activities. I expect that the industry will align around these practices. The entry ticket is expensive but the shortened time to market is worth it.
Bryczek: The most innovative thing I personally saw was a large aerospace company making use of internal generative AI to assist with developing specifications and planning documentation. Heavy documentation which previously took four months to author, review and approve, took only a couple of weeks. AI is spreading into many other areas of the business including training and simulation. It is most certainly being used today by warfighters in Gaza and Ukraine to create realistic training simulations to predict outcomes of various defense strategies and enhance preparedness.
Mulcahy: For an industry that is very security conscious, I’m seeing more companies embrace the cloud to get better total cost of ownership, scalability, and performance from their engineering tools. Furthermore, an increase in consortium working together to break boundaries and define new ways of working together (often across time zones and cultures) I think will become more of the norm. In addition, we see organizations utilizing companies / partners to provide strength in specific and unique areas of expertise to develop groundbreaking technology.
Do you think there will be any major disruptors in aerospace & defense in the coming year? How do you think it will impact the industry?
Couadau: We have discussed many influencing factors already: emerging technologies, environmental goals, and a changing geopolitical context are all strong forces that can challenge the status quo.
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What do you predict for regulation in the aerospace & defense industry in 2024?
Will those trends still be prevalent five years from now? 10 years?
Couadau: We should see the first standards emerge around AI and Machine Learning. On our end, we happen to be contributing to SAE ARP6983. We expect these standards to lay a solid foundation for safe, observable, and certifiable AI in aeronautics for the coming decades.
Bryczek: The aerospace and defense industry will continue to be challenged with environmental decarbonization initiatives such as the Paris Agreements. More to come here.
Mulcahy: Many of our customers are working on new systems in the Aerospace Industry. Whether that’s for UAV’s, Electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL), AirTaxis, etc, there will need to be more regulations developed here for the development of UAVs for example, but also to govern usage of the products in the sky. Furthermore, as these start to become more of the norm, regulation will need to be established for the surrounding infrastructure, usage, and purchase of these for the consumer market.
As more companies near release dates, more will be developed regarding these regulations, with of course current regulations also enhanced to better serve today’s needs.
With more global conflict at the forefront of our lives, and with other tensions continuing to escalate, I expect defense spending to be increased in anticipation of future conflicts, with new products being developed to gain advantage.
Linking with the above, I see Space being an area of further exploration in the defense sense, but also commercialization — whether it’s advancing the space race or decluttering space (as an example). I anticipate more startups in this sub-industry.
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