SOSA Backplanes

A SOSA (Sensor Open Systems Architecture) backplane is a modular and standardized hardware interface designed for sensor systems in defense applications. SOSA backplanes facilitate interoperability and flexibility by allowing different electronic modules from various vendors to communicate and work together seamlessly. The SOSA backplanes architecture is crucial in military environments where systems require rapid upgrades and integrations of new technologies to respond to evolving threats.
Overview SOSA Backplanes
By Mike Ball Last updated: June 20th, 2024

Computing chassis backplanes may be aligned to SOSA (Sensor Open Systems Architecture) standards, which have been developed by the United States Department of Defense and a consortium of companies in an effort to create a common open architecture for sensors and payloads used in military, defense and aerospace applications.

SOSA Backplane Configuration

SOSA backplanes are designed to provide interoperability across all branches of government and military, and to accommodate a wide range of plug-in cards and modules. The modularity and standardization of SOSA reduces costs and vendor lock-in, and also allows systems to be quickly reconfigured without having to redesign the hardware from scratch. This allows computing systems to be easily reused for different mission profiles, and also enables them to be future-proofed as new technologies are developed.

SOSA-aligned backplanes and other hardware designs are based on a subset of the OpenVPX (VITA 65) standard. Plug-in cards are either 3U or 6U in height, and corresponding backplanes may provide a number of slots, typically ranging from 3 to around 18. Regular copper interface slot connectors are designed according to VITA 46 standards, and SOSA-aligned backplanes may also utilize RF (VITA 67) and optical (VITA 66) connectors.


One of the primary applications of SOSA backplanes is high-performance computing systems that can handle the vast volumes of data generated by modern sensors. In order to support the necessary bandwidth and data transfer rates, the fastest SOSA backplanes may utilize 100 GbE and PCIe Gen 4 connectivity.

SOSA backplanes may be incorporated into chassis, ATRs (air transport racks) and other computing systems for a wide range of military and defense use cases, including ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) systems such as radar and EO/IR gimbals, SIGINT (signals intelligence), EW (electronic warfare), communications, and aircraft and vehicle mission computers.