ISSUE 4 : May/Jun - 1977 - Australian Defence Force Journal

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ISSUE 4 : May/Jun - 1977 - Australian Defence Force Journal

COMPUTERS IN THE FIELD 25their range is extremely limited. The majorityof the hardware, 41 if not all, will have to bepurchased overseas. Our software 15 capability,on the other hand, is fairly advanced by worldstandards, both in government and civil industry.This situation is to our advantage. Hardwareto software ratio has seen a completereversal to a stage where software costs representsome 80% of the overall system coststoday. This trend is shown in the followingdiagram. 46Because of differing command and controlphilosophies with our allies, it can be anticipatedthat we will need to develop themajority of our software requirements — andthis is the area in which our strength lies.There is just one note of caution; apart fromDefence, the software effort is distributed overmany companies and therefore in any suchventure, a co-operative effort would appearto be necessary.The development of such a system can notbe undertaken on a part-time basis. It requiresthe attention of a dedicated project team ofa size adequate for the task. United StatesArmy experience indicates that from two toin excess of six years pass between the preparationof first documentation describing acomputer requirement and its installation. 17Australian experience would tend more towardsa ten year interval. There are dangers in alengthy development period; firstly the requirementsare likely to change, and secondly costinflation and equipment obsolescence mayendanger the project. For these reasons it isdesirable to reduce the development period asmuch as possible; this implies a greater expenditureof resources in the initial stages.In the earliest part of the paper I outlineda technology forecast. However, to be at theforefront of technology is expensive. It is onlythe research and development costs have beenamortised, that the new technology will producea more cost effective solution than previously.To be at the tail end of computertechnology is also costly. At this stage computeroperations become more expensive thanwith newer equipments. This particularlyapplies to software, and unless the programminglanguage is well established a shortageof qualified programmers may develop towardsthe end of the computer's lifetime. 48 A compromisesolution should therefore be sought.(Sanders Associates,Inc.)A severe environment version of a standard commercialcomputer.A commercial graphics terminal with a compatiblecopier.It is common to refer to computers bygenerations. Market projections indicate thatthe next generation equipment should belaunched in the very near future. 40 It may beadvantageous to establish a prototype commandand control system with this next generation.This would take advantage of new technologyand extend the useful life of the equip-

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