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New trends in Modeling and Simulation, a critical enabler for military training, analysis, decision-making and capability development

“Scientific results cannot be used efficiently by soldiers who have no understanding of them, and scientists cannot produce results useful for warfare without an understanding of the operations,” said Theodore von Kármán (1881-1963).  As the  future Warfare is becoming  increasingly complex and distributed, involving actions across multiple domains — land, air, sea, space, and cyber — by multiple military services, at times simultaneously, the role of Modelling and Simulation becomes more important to enhance and transform both systems development and training. It allows representation of increasingly complex equipment, systems and scenarios for the purposes of decision support and helps to reduce wear on live equipment and on test and training areas.

In military domain, Modeling and simulation have been primarily developed and applied in the areas of Defense planning; development, engineering and acquisition of systems; training and exercises and operational planning. It contributes to saving lives, saving time and money and preparing the war fighter better, faster and cheaper.

To maintain its long-term competitive advantage, the U.S. military is pursuing a Third Offset Strategy. To integrate capabilities ranging from rail guns and high-energy lasers to big data and artificial intelligence and robotics, however, the joint force needs to usher in a new era of conceptual experimentation. USAF is establishing a new office for capability development that would test the feasibility of technologies like directed energy weapons and hypersonic platforms  using tools such as  war gaming, modeling and simulation and prototypes.

The realistic testing of live equipment in an operational environment can be some of the most expensive parts of a development program. M&S can provide insight into mission success of yet to-be designed systems without the need to actually build and test the system in the real world. “Similarly, M&S tools can evaluate human effectiveness under various scenarios while only risking the virtual lives of avatars. When properly applied, M&S capabilities provide critical insight that allows leaders to make smart decisions about how to accomplish the mission and increase human performance more quickly and at lower cost and risk than reliance on real-world testing,” write Scott D. Snyder and James M. Taylor, Jr.of  University of Nebraska.

 M&S Approaches for  Aircraft Survivability testing

After microenvironments in laboratories and costly flight test events, the third option for aircraft survivability testers is the M&S approach. More recently, with the help of advanced computer processing power, modeling and simulation (M&S) has begun to play a larger role in aircraft survivability test approaches by allowing mathematical approximations to examine survivability characteristics in ways not possible in traditional laboratory, ground, and flight test (and often at a fraction of the cost).

“Using modern computing power, we are able to simulate an operational environment with extreme precision. We are capable of emulating a realistic environment by using random number generators to provide distributions of performance, red and blue system data, and mathematical algorithms proven to reflect actual performance through rigorous analysis and comparisons between M&S results and flight testing, ” writes CPT Maxim Olivine, Director of Engineering for the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center. These scenarios include the system under test and other blue forces executing operational mission actions in the presence of integrated air defense systems that are representative of threats the system will encounter in combat around the world.

From an engineering perspective, one of the key aspects of improving survivability in the radio frequency (RF) domain can be described as the act of minimizing the RF signature of an aircraft, also known as the radar cross section (RCS). A smaller, “stealthier” RCS improves aircraft survivability by making the platform not able to be detected easily or consistently by enemy integrated air defense systems (including RF early warning, target acquisition, and target tracking radars), especially at longer ranges.

The proposed solution is to blueprint a design for a portable, easy-to-use, one-stop-shop software suite that packs all of the tools necessary to simulate or model any aircraft in any survivability scenario—almost like having a Microsoft Office-like toolkit for M&S. The Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center (AFOTEC) is one of the major drivers of such a universal platform—namely, the Joint Simulation Environment (JSE), a government-owned M&S battlespace setting that is undergoing initial phases of development at the Naval Air Systems Command in support of the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter program. The JSE is being developed at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, MD, and future expansion will be to an M&S campus at the Virtual Warfare Center at Nellis Air Force Base, NV.

Currently, the JSE is being built to support a man-in-the-loop, multisecurity caveats operational test of the F-35. However, the system’s modular capabilities should allow for future integration of fifth-generation platforms—namely, the F-22 Raptor, the B-2 Spirit, and the B-21 Raider.

Ultimately, the environment should allow for integration of most DoD air systems, including command and control, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets, as well as fourth-generation platforms (F-16s, F-15s, B-1s, etc.). What the JSE is intended to provide is a universal, real-time, effects-based environment where any test team can bring an operational flight program (OFP) cockpit representation of its system to test with other blue assets in operationally representative threat environments.

M&S Concept Development & Experimentation (CD&E) and Military Experimentation

The objective of CD&E is “To develop & to validate possible, feasible, useful and innovative solutions which able to cover the gaps in the organization. They will have to be established following a methodological way and generating a set of processes with the aim to control and to guarantee the reaching of the objectives as they were initially defined”

“The main objective of (Military) Experimentation is to validate in a Low Cost Environment the new concepts, doctrines, procedures, guidelines, reaction mechanisms, … needed to face future threats, to mitigate them or to obtain new and/or better capabilities, before they are definitively implemented” It allows understanding future scenarios and their associated problems. It is an innovative tool which permits adaptation to continuum changes. It allows increasing the reliability in the likelihood and convenience of possible solutions.

CD&E Process has stage of initial prospective for the identification of threats and future scenarios, stage of experimentation, in which hypotheses are established and are evaluated using tools such as modelization, simulation, tests and trials in technological laboratories, and finally Implementation of a general solution encompassing the complete spectrum MIHTDLS (M – ateriel, I – nfraestructure, H – uman Resources, T – raining & Education, D – octrine, S – tructure & L-ogistics ). It will be the answer to the identified need/threat.

Australia’s DST develops new VIRSuite real-time scene generation software

The Australian Defence Science and Technology Group (DST) has developed a real-time scene generation software for improving the effectiveness of missile performance. The new VIRSuite can be used for analysing, assessing and developing electro-optical systems in a range of complex scenarios and environments.

The electro-optical systems play a key role in improving the survivability and operational effectiveness of the F-35A joint strike fighter, by warning the pilot of the incoming aircraft and missile threats. These systems are also crucial to the effectiveness of air-to-air missiles and air-to-surface missiles that are used to attack both ships and land targets.

This real-time scene generation software was initially used in testing and in improving the capabilities of the short range air-to-air missile (ASRAAM) imaging infrared seeker. DST defence researcher Shawn Garner said: “A great deal of effort was invested to ensure the VIRSuite scenes matched those captured by ASRAAM during firings and initial testing.”

Garner added: “We were able to measure a similar engine on the ground and modify it to match the physical characteristics of the target. “We also took advantage of some work done elsewhere in DST on infrared signatures (heat emissions) to produce a predicted signature model for the target.”

By inputting this data into the VIRSuite software, the ASRAAM team was able to work with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) to plan a set of accurate firings against the target which met all objectives, according to the statement. It can generate detailed scenes in visible, ultraviolet and infrared bands with high degrees of accuracy, including atmospheric effects. The software considers background clutter, including sun-glint on clouds and the way the waves interact with vessels. It is also capable of replicating sparse desert environments and complex urban environments.



USAF’s New office  will test  directed energy weapons and hypersonics technology

An initiative led by a southwest Ohio military base will test technologies like directed energy and hypersonics to determine if the weapons can be fielded on future battlefields, officials said. “This is a new way of doing capability development for the Air Force,” Office Director Jack Blackhurst said.

The new field office is part of the Air Force Research Laboratory headquartered in Washington and will target Air Force-wide strategic requirements, rather than major command tactical needs, Blackhurst said. The initiative will report on the results of experiments, war gaming, modeling and simulation research, and the feasibility of prototypes as future weapon systems. “We might be asked to go do some experiments to get something in the warfighters’ hands to go try out and see if they really work or not in the capacity that they want them to,” he said.

The initiative is important to help the Air Force keep its military edge over potential enemies without wasting time or money, said Loren Thompson, a senior defense analyst with the Virginia-based Lexington Institute and an industry consultant. He said the goal is to make the Air Force “more agile.”

USAF service has awarded Stellar Science a five-year, $7 million contract for advanced laser modeling and simulation. The Albuquerque-based company is expected to continue the work started in 2014, when the Air Force tapped the group to develop computer simulations and virtual testing of directed energy weapons. Aircraft-launched laser weapons could eventually be engineered for a wide range of potential uses, including air-to-air combat, close air support, counter-UAS(drone), counter-boat, ground attack and even missile defense, officials said.

According to Stellar Science, “The goal of this research project was to compute the three-dimensional (3D) shape and orientation of a satellite from two-dimensional (2D) images of it.”


US Army plans Cyber Battle lab for cyber electromagnetic activities

US Army plans to develop Cyber Battle Lab that will support every area of cyber electromagnetic activities, a fairly new term known as CEMA, which includes cyberspace operations, electronic warfare and spectrum management, according to a draft solicitation by the Mission and Installation Contracting Command at Fort Gordon, Ga.

It plans to award a contract, designated as a small business set-aside, to support the lab in providing experimentation support to warfighters “dynamic network experimentation integrated with cyberspace operations and electronic warfare,” the draft states. Activities will include live experimentation, modeling and simulation, regional hub node experimentation, and the Battle Lab collaborative simulation.

Among the experimentation support to be delivered under the contract are cutting-edge systems engineering, satellite support, analysis, prototyping, assessments, systems administration, network engineering, information assurance, model development, and distributed simulation network operations and security center services, according to the draft solicitation.

Ultimately, the experiments, assessments, analyses and network support activities are intended to confirm the effectiveness of proposed new technologies and techniques to identify any gaps in cyber operations and electronic warfare.

 Virtual Battlespace (VBS) for realistic, interactive simulations

Virtual reality is defined as a simulated 3D environment that the user or users can interact with in all senses. This is achieved using sensors in helmets, gloves and vests. According to a study done by digi-capital virtual reality is expected to “hit $150B revenue by 2020”.

Military is widely using packages like Virtual Battlespace (VBS) that allow individuals to engage in realistic, interactive simulations. VBS3, short for Virtual Battlespace 3, is the third major version of the Virtual Battlespace software series, developed by Bohemia Interactive Simulations. It is a desktop tactical trainer and mission rehearsal software system. The software is primarily used for tactical training and mission rehearsal, though VBS3 can be used for a wide range of training tasks.

The U.S. Army has accredited VBS3 for training on more than 100 combined arms tasks. These tasks include entering and clearing a building, conducting an attack, conducting convoy security and more. The U.S. Army also is incorporating VBS3 into other simulators including its Close Combat Tactical Trainer simulator and Dismounted Soldier Training System.


Live, Virtual and Constructive (LVC) training

Live Virtual Constructive training has really expanded the field of virtual reality. According to The Journal of Defense Modeling and Simulation: Applications, Methodology, Technology LVC involves “three distinct classes of military simulation: live simulation, virtual simulation, and constructive simulation”. Live simulation involves real people operating real systems, such as having a real soldier practice aiming a weapon mounted on an aircraft at targets below. Virtual simulation involves a real person operating a simulated system. A pilot using a flight simulator would be an example of virtual simulation. The previous two techniques have been used for years by the military but constructive simulation is relatively new due to advancements in virtual reality. Constructive simulation involves simulated people operating simulated systems like a simulated enemy attempting to thwart the plan of the mission.

A LVC event can happen without everyone being in the same room. Before, military training involved flying the team members to a specific training site to learn specific skills over a period of weeks. Now with LVC, everyone can participate in the exercise literally from the comfort of their own homes as long as they have the equipment.

The US Air Force (USAF) has successfully integrated F-22 Raptors with F-16 Fighting Falcons during a live, virtual and constructive (LVC) training event.

Four live F-16s and two virtual F-22 Raptors were connected by Northrop Grumman’s LVC experimentation, integration and operations suite (LEXIOS) system. Through LEXIOS, virtual aircraft operated by actual aircrew members participate in the same airspace alongside their live counterparts via networked simulators at full security levels, Northrop said in a statement.

Northrop Grumman Mission Systems satellite and network operations director Martin J. Amen said: “No aircraft goes to war alone. “With our increasingly joint and networked approach, fighter integration training is extremely consequential to effective execution in combat. “Although Distant Frontier is a small-scale training event, with this achievement Northrop Grumman has demonstrated that we can provide full-spectrum combat training and truly transform the way pilots train to fight.”

“As adversaries continually improve their capabilities, the ability to add LVC is critical to best train and prepare F-22 pilots for dealing with the full complement and degree of threats.” Northrop Grumman is the prime contractor for the USAF’s distributed mission operations network (DMON), which allows dissimilar aircraft platforms located across the globe to seamlessly interoperate and train together in a realistic virtual environment.


 Modeling and Simulation as a Service (MSaaS)

Recent developments in computing and networking are making it possible for a customer to benefit from the products of computing without the full investment in hardware, software, personnel and infrastructure. This is the main idea behind cloud computing. In this case, hardware, software and expert personnel can be centrally located and the “services” they provide are accessed over the network.

The application of a “services” model to Modelling and Simulation, henceforth called “Modelling and Simulation as a Service” (MSaaS), promises to greatly reduce the barriers of cost and accessibility and to result in greater utility of M&S throughout NATO and the Nations.

The goal of MSaaS is to provide M&S applications as a cloud-computing service model so that they are available on-demand, over the network, with the ability to charge per-use rather than needing to purchase entire M&S products.


Military User-Specific Advantages

From the military user point of view, there are a number of (perceived) advantages of MSaaS as a cloud service:

  • No major hardware necessary (e.g. on front-line) where you do not want it (it could be in a back-office);
  • Less end-user maintenance of complex, military M&S assets (typically in large distributed training: version differences requiring upgrades, technical problems, etc.);
  • Accessible from around the world (allowing, e.g., training wherever you are);
  • Flexibility: adaptable depending on the training audience or selected scenario and required assets, solutions can be made to fit due to elasticity at the provider or by selecting another provider; and
  • Scalability: adaptable depending on size of the training audience, solutions can be made to fit due to elasticity at the provider.


Market Growth

The Global Military Simulation and Virtual Training Market2016-2026 report offers a detailed analysis of the industry, with market size forecasts covering the next ten years. The Military Simulation and Virtual Training Market, valued at US$13.3 billion in 2016, is projected to grow at a CAGR of 2.90% over the 2016-2026 period, to US$17.7 billion by 2026.

The market consists of three simulation categories: flight, combat, and maritime. Flight simulators are expected to account for 59% of the global military simulation market, followed by maritime simulators and combat simulators with shares of 21% and 20%, respectively. North America dominates the sector with a share of 36.4%, followed by Europe and Asia Pacific with shares of 25.4% and 25.2%, respectively.


NATO’s vision of Modeling and Simulation

NATO also considers Modelling and Simulation (M&S) as a key enabler for the delivery of capabilities to NATO and Nations in the domains of training, analysis and decision-making. To a great extent, future military training capabilities will be provided by simulation systems (either standalone or via distributed simulation environments).

This is a consequence of limited or decreasing budgets, restrictions due to security and safety regulations, and shorter response times as well as increasingly faster changing mission profiles and operational needs. Accordingly, the main challenges regarding the use of M&S are to provide operational solutions faster and better; and to enable a more efficient development, usage and maintenance of M&S solutions. NATO has set out a new framework document Version 2.0 detailing how M&S activities might be used to reach its global strategic vision.

According to NATO, It has three main application areas – support to Current and Future operations, capability development and procurement.

Support to operations includes education, training and exercising, operational planning, operational rehearsal, and analysis and decision-making support,” says Francisco Gomez-Ramos, head of the NATO M&S Coordination Office.

M&S assets are also being used to support capability development processes, studying how emerging technologies and new concepts may affect the battlefield. Capability development means fostering continuous improvement of military capabilities to enhance the interoperability and effectiveness of NATO and nations, and helping to detect interoperability gaps before implementation in actual operations.

“We must keep in mind that forces that operate together need to train and exercise together, and the current context requires additional training that is also cleaner, safer and cheaper,” says Gomez-Ramos. “In my opinion, this is one of the more attractive aspects of the expected future increase in the use of M&S assets in NATO.”

“Procurement means supporting the complete life-cycle management of assets and systems, including design risk reduction, test and evaluation. It can also facilitate appropriate allocation of resources and optimal management,” says Gomez-Ramos.

He sees a broad movement away from individual simulation platforms and towards more complex distributed systems that facilitate collective training or mission preparation. This means that, where training was once strategic and abstract, today it is practical and mission-focused.

As the technology continues to advance, simulations are becoming increasingly realistic, leaving less to the imagination and more to what’s on the screen.”Honestly, I think the technology will help us all to reach our ambitions and discover the potentialities of M&S systems in helping NATO forces to reach their objectives,” said Gomez-Ramos.



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