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NEWS | Aug. 9, 2023

NSWCDD works to close modeling and simulation capability gaps

By Taft Coghill Jr., NSWCDD Corporate Communications

As tactical systems evolve, keeping models up to date is one of the greatest challenges facing the Modeling and Simulations Tools Branch at Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD).

This is particularly true when it comes to new weapon coordination and control algorithms.

The Warfare Analysis and Digital Modeling Department at NSWCDD is constantly working to shrink modeling and simulation (M&S) capability gaps.

“Combat is getting more complex and to figure out exactly what would happen in any given scenario is getting more difficult to do,” M&S Tools Branch portfolio manager Garrett Wilson said. “With newer technologies, someone could be a subject matter expert but they don’t necessarily know how it interacts with other things. When you put it all together, how do the probabilities change? That is a challenge.”

The Warfare Analysis and Digital Modeling Department workforce noticed a gap in M&S capability for the surface domain and put together proposals to close the cracks. Multiple proposals gained traction and will soon provide a much-needed capability.

The Digital Modeling Solutions Tool Suite consists of three main components – the Parametric Model Broker (PMB), the Blue Force Technical Baseline (BFTB) and the Infrastructure for Rapidly Updating Mission Models (IRUMM), said Corey Gates, engineer in the Warfare Analysis and Digital Modeling Department.

“We have different modeling and simulation tools to perform analysis,” Gates said. “Each tool has its own set of capabilities.”

The PMB tool is anticipated to span all U.S. Navy mission areas and domains. It is a Warfare Analysis and Digital Modeling Department Naval Innovative Science and Engineering effort to provide a common set of authoritative engineering data for Navy surface platforms in support of M&S efforts via a software interface that connects to multiple data sources.

Data sources for PMB currently include Element Component Characterization Analysis (E/CCA), and BFTB, which is in development.

PMB will provide easy access to verified data from multiple sources to aid study development stemming from a web application hosted through Naval Systems Engineering Resource Center.

Users can get verified aggregated data from the PMB graphical user interface directly. The benefits of this are that it is user friendly for those who aren’t knowledgeable of System Modeling Language (SYSML), it will be easy to access and everything is in one location, making this a one-stop shop.

Gates is the project lead for BFTB, which develops a repository for U.S. Navy platforms for use in M&S systems. The success of BFTB is tied to three important pillars – data that is authoritative, accessible and current.

A configuration management plan will be developed to determine how software versioning will be maintained. It will also describe the infrastructure that it will be hosted on and define an update on guidance and cadence. The BFTB team will work on sustainment plans for future fiscal years.

BFTB is currently being developed on Naval Portal Logistics Integrated Fleet Tool/Integrated Modeling Environment (Naval LIFT/IME) to make data easily accessible to the Navy’s M&S community.

The intent is to provide data for surface representations in M&S to support specific intended uses such as platform predictive analysis, platform test and evaluation, platform training, System of Systems (SoS) development and integration, Live Virtual Constructive (LVC), support platform modeling and SoS predictive analysis.

“Our purpose and intent for M&S is multi-fold, including predictive analysis,” Modeling and Simulation Tools and Combat System Simulation Branch Head, Aaron Anderson, said. “Five, 15, 20 years from now, what should be the projected capability of our warfighter against threats? So if we’re looking at our adversaries, what type of capabilities do they have now, what are we projecting them to have and what will we need to defend ourselves against said capability?”

Anderson said M&S tools are also used to demonstrate current combat systems. The purpose is to simulate today’s capabilities including conceptual design.

“Right now we’re looking at LVC, with more focus on the constructive side. Understanding that you cannot get around live fire tests and live events where you are actually sending ships out and they’re firing missiles and testing,” Anderson said. “The purpose of using M&S tools is to offset some of the costs of using actual live equipment. We try to model and simulate those things as close as possible and the reuse of live data from those live events help us do that. There is also an emphasis on verification, validation and accreditation to ensure that there is confidence that the M&S capabilities satisfy the specific intended use.”

Anderson and Wilson said capability gaps mostly stem from the fact when one is using M&S, it can never be perfect. Wilson cited an example of simulating weather conditions.

“Modeling the real world is very difficult,” Wilson said. “The closer and closer you get to the real world, the amount of computation needed to do that gets higher and higher in which case it’s going to take your system forever to get an output. Just wind in itself is very difficult to capture because it blows in all different directions and at different speeds. Water is the same way. It flows in different directions and it goes up and down. All of that takes an incredible amount of physics calculations to model.”

The third component of the Digital Modeling Solutions Tool Suite is IRUMM.

IRUMM will supply behavior representations with traceability back to engineering specifications and with data deemed authoritative by program offices via a partnership with BFTB.

The goal of IRUMM is to speed up mission model development by providing pseudocode templates through the report feature or cameo tool. It also aims to improve specific problems in the current M&S development process. Some of the issues include code reuse, requirement traceability and the duration of algorithm implementation.

IRUMM will be used to give a common starting point for algorithm implementations and will allow verified algorithm SYSML models to be exported to mission models. IRUMM consists of activity diagrams and block definitions diagrams. Both of the elements are used to provide structural and behavioral information regarding an algorithm.

Algorithms modeled using IRUMM’s methodology can be used to generate source code implementation templates for modeling tools such as Advanced Framework for Simulation Integration and Modeling, Next Generation Threat System and Modeling and Simulation Toolbox.

“The main concept is that IRUMM will hold more than one algorithm package using SYSML blocks and also have activity diagrams for the behavioral piece,” Gates said. “IRUMM’s goal is to make mission modeling development faster.”