Is there a word for the software critical for and specific to a weapon system?

Weapon system have software that's critical for their functioning, but what do we call it or them? I am thinking of the specific software that a weapon system has and not the operating system or kernel, because it's shared across a variety of weapon system and not specific to a particular weapon system.

  • Perhaps a safety-critical system is a phrase that meets your need. Commented May 11, 2019 at 17:22
  • That includes the hardware. What would you call the software of a safety-critical system?
    – Sayaman
    Commented May 11, 2019 at 17:44
  • Does it have to be a weapon system?
    – James K
    Commented May 11, 2019 at 21:13
  • No, not really.
    – Sayaman
    Commented May 11, 2019 at 21:17
  • 1
    system-critical software
    – Lambie
    Commented May 12, 2019 at 16:20

1 Answer 1


Computer software that is designed to be run on a specific machine or device (such as a weapon), especially a machine that would not normally be thought of as a "computer" is called embedded software.

Embedded software is essential for the running of that machine, and is normally specialised for the particular hardware that it is running on. For example a "smart bomb" will have an onboard chip that runs embedded software to control the flight and timing of the bomb and increase the chance of it hitting a particular target.

Embedded software may run with an OS (called an embedded OS). For example Linux provides "Embedded Linux", used in set-top-boxes, networking equipment and elsewhere. Embedded software can also be designed to run without a separate OS.

Embedded software designed for weapons is specifically "military embedded software"

  • What about software that runs on top of an operating system? Are all military systems running without an OS?
    – Sayaman
    Commented May 11, 2019 at 21:32
  • Sometimes it can run on an OS. The details of the embedded systems in military systems is a commersial and military secret. However this question is not a matter for English language learning.
    – James K
    Commented May 12, 2019 at 15:56

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