WASHINGTON — The U.S. Military is utilizing digital engineering to develop its next-generation floor fight autos, together with the optionally manned combating car.
In its easiest iteration, digital engineering strikes the design course of from 2D blueprints to 3D digital fashions, which might then be plugged into practical simulations to check efficiency.
On the Affiliation of the U.S. Military’s annual convention on Oct. 12, Military officers stated they plan to make use of a digital engineering strategy to develop the OMFV, which is being designed to switch the Bradley Infantry Combating Automobile.
“We intend to make use of digital engineering in a model-based setting, and that’s within the subsequent part, part 3, the place we’re going to award these contracts to design autos. We’re at the moment working by precisely what that appears like, however we need to get to a cloud-based tech stack so we now have the power to get in there and try the designs as they evolve in actual time, after which take these designs and the information that comes with them and plug them into fashions and simulations in order that we will run them whereas they’re nonetheless digital, and we will use that approach to keep away from expensive failures on a check vary,” Schirmer stated.
Whereas bodily testing can’t be totally eradicated, he added, digital testing can enormously cut back danger all through the event course of.
The Military continues to be figuring out the way it will implement digital engineering. The service is taking a look at what cloud setting it should use, whether or not it needs the mannequin to be hosted by the contractor or the Military, and what kind of contract language it should use.
“There are some laborious questions that the Military has to determine early,” Schirmer stated.
A draft request for proposals outlining the Military’s digital strategy for the OMFV can be issued early subsequent yr.
Whereas Schirmer stated the third part will mark the start of the service’s digital engineering efforts with the OMFV, the Military’s acquisition plan already makes use of digital ideas.
First, the Subsequent Technology Fight Automobile Cross-Useful Workforce backed off of its extremely restrictive and particular necessities for the platform, changing it with a much more versatile “attribute of wants.” That enabled the 5 groups on contract — Level Clean Enterprises, Oshkosh Protection, BAE Techniques, Normal Dynamics Land Techniques and American Rheinmetall Automobiles — to innovate in creating merchandise that can meet the Military’s wants.
“We simply obtained idea deliveries from the 5 business groups which can be on contract. We’re taking the information from these, plugging them into fashions, and working them by some simulations to form of see how they’re efficiency can be and what impression that might have on the battlefield,” Schirmer stated.
Suggestions from these simulations will allow the Military to refine necessities, organising a full and open competitors to pick three contractors that can construct precise prototypes.
“That’s completely different. That’s not the way in which we’ve executed issues previously,” Schirmer stated.
Maj. Gen. Ross Coffman, director of the Subsequent Technology Fight Automobile Cross-Useful Workforce, stated that contracting with 5 groups to supply digital designs has allowed the Military to work extra intently with the groups constructing out their designs than in some earlier initiatives.
“As a result of they’ve been chosen, we will have open, candid and trustworthy one-on-one conversations. We will look them within the eye and say: ‘Hey, let’s discover this commerce and see what that does to your car design.’ ” Coffman defined.
If the present design part was a contest, the Military must guarantee its communications had been uniform and universally shared, Coffman added.
Michael Cadieux, director of the Floor Automobile Techniques Heart, stated the Military additionally needs to make use of digital engineering to develop its robotic fight car. Particularly, he stated the service is taking a look at digital environments to check and alter the robotic system to make sure it really works and meets the Military’s wants.
The Military isn’t the one Protection Division group to embrace digital engineering, an strategy that has seen varied ranges of adoption within the industrial world. In his 2020 digital engineering manifesto, former assistant secretary of the Air Pressure for acquisition, expertise and logistics, Will Roper. stated that solely three applications throughout the navy had been totally digital: the T-7A Crimson Hawk plane, the Floor Based mostly Strategic Deterrent weapon system and the Subsequent Technology Air Dominance fighter.
Within the yr since, nevertheless, there’s been an enormous uptick within the variety of Pentagon-run digital engineering initiatives. Whereas particular person applications just like the Missile Protection Company’s Hypersonic and Ballistic Monitoring Area Sensor have used digital engineering options, there have additionally been substantial servicewide efforts to push digital engineering all through acquisitions. Particularly, the Area Pressure said earlier this yr that it needs to be the world’s first totally digital service, and it has begun to implement that imaginative and prescient.
Schirmer stated the Military appeared to the Air Pressure’s main digital engineering efforts to develop its personal strategy. That tour helps the service decide points like how large of a staff it must implement a model-based methods engineering program.
The Military doubtless gained’t get it precisely proper on the primary strive, admitted Schirmer, however it will use contractors to fill gaps and adapt its processes over time.
Nathan Strout covers area, unmanned and intelligence methods for C4ISRNET.