DAHLGREN, Va. - The virtual USS Dahlgren - built to
assess the naval fire-control-loop through research, development, test, and
evaluation (RDT&E) - is available for Navy warfare centers to access and
leverage its distributed testing capabilities.
From its berth at Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC)
Dahlgren Division, the cybernetic ship is facilitating high fidelity testing
between geographically separated systems at warfare center divisions from coast
"All testing occurs within the fence in an
environment that does not impact Navy ships or crew members," said Steve
Shannon, NSWCDD engineer. "The testing normally required aboard a real
ship or other high demand sites can be now accomplished through USS
Its integrated testing capabilities ensure that test and
evaluation resources can rapidly adapt to changing warfighters' needs.
What's more, the Navy Innovative Science and Engineering
(NISE) funded-test bed allows emerging technologies such as electromagnetic
railgun, solid-state lasers, or similar cutting edge weapon systems to be
evaluated side-by-side with fielded naval systems.
The concept began 15 years ago when most NSWCDD labs were
isolated and internally focused," said Shannon. "Our labs were built
for specific customers and missions but we invested in fiber installation
across the base to leverage previous investments in lab construction. This
fiber install laid the ground work for a significant test bed that would
eventually become USS Dahlgren."
Once USS Dahlgren was connected, NSWCDD scientists and
engineers began mission level testing and experimentation. They are using
RDT&E resources integrated into the cohesive, real-time, net-centric engineering
environment that replicates many of the fire-control systems found aboard naval
platforms, including sensor, command and control, and weapon systems.
From Dahlgren, they access the cybernetic ship's
distributed capability to detect, identify, track, engage, and assess
sensor-weapon capabilities in a littoral operational environment prior to
integration aboard warships.
The continuous testing capability spans the acquisition
lifecycle, featuring off-site connectivity to investigate ship, battle force,
and joint force integration and the ability to replicate the fleet environment
to address issues observed at sea.
When emphasis shifted to an earlier point in the Navy's
test and evaluation systems engineering cycle, USS Dahlgren was there to help
scientists and engineers identify and correct interoperability issues prior to
full-scale development or shipboard integration.
For example, it was vital to testing the NSWCDD-patented
and NISE-funded Visual Automatic Scoring System (VASS) which calculates gunfire
miss distances and instantly adjusts targeting for gunners to converge gunfire
onto a target without risking the lives of forward observers.
Surface warfare officers observed its capability
demonstrated via USS Dahlgren at a September 2014 event on the Potomac River
Test Range the moment Cmdr. Marc Williams ordered a gun engagement on a
simulated threat based on identification and targeting data streaming from an
unmanned surface vehicle.
Williams, the experiment's surface warfare tactical
action officer, deployed a Scan Eagle UAV to spot, target, engage and
continually support reengagement via VASS gun targeting corrections to the
MK160 gun weapon system operator.
"The event exemplified how we enable technology to
expand the battle space over-the-horizon," said Neil Baron, NSWCDD
distinguished scientist for combat control. "USS Dahlgren is empowering
our integration of unmanned air and surface vehicles into the fire-control-loop
for greatly expanded battle space and increased reaction times."
Throughout the test, the cybernetic USS Dahlgren
responded to reports of hostile threats by searching intelligence and data
across multiple air and ship control operational systems, maximizing response
accuracy and timeliness.
"The virtual USS Dahlgren is hosting new
technological advancements and platforms for integrated test and evaluation
full speed ahead," said NSWCDD Technical Director Dennis McLaughlin after
the demonstration, reported in a news release published by the Navy Chief of
Information via this link:
http://www.navy.mil/submit/display.asp?story_id=86133. "We are providing
linkage that ensures our test and evaluation capabilities can be rapidly
adapted to changing warfighter needs."
Meanwhile, potential users throughout the warfare centers
are also linking to the virtual ship's hardware and Aegis weapon system
programs. They are connecting to USS Dahlgren via networks like the Secure
Defense Research and Engineering Network and the Joint Information Operations
Range to integrate, test, and adapt emerging systems designed to be effective
and interoperable in the Fleet.