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13 Sep 18. Digital Engineering Strategy Streamlines How Defense Systems Are Designed, Official Says. While the 2018 National Defense Strategy directs reform as one of its key efforts, the Defense Department is undergoing considerable change in how it does business — including how it improves the outcome of national defense systems. The recently released Digital Engineering Strategy modernizes the practices of developing DoD’s defense systems and prioritizes speed of delivery to be able to fight and win the wars of the future, Michael D. Griffin, undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, wrote in the strategy’s forward. The strategy directs the services and DoD agencies to begin implementing digital engineering and those plans are expected by the end of December, he said.
DoD requires robust engineering practices to develop the weapons systems the nation needs to maintain superiority against threats from adversaries worldwide, the strategy’s introduction reads.
“DoD faces the challenge of balancing design, delivery and sustainment of complex systems with rapidly changing operational and threat environments, tight budgets and aggressive schedules,” the introduction says.
To ensure the United States maintains its technological superiority, “DoD is transforming its engineering practices to digital engineering, incorporating technological innovations into an integrated, digital, model-based approach,” the introduction reads.
What is Digital Engineering?
Digital engineering does not reinvent the wheel, but rather optimizes engineering practices, according to Philomena Zimmerman, DoD’s deputy director of engineering tools and environments. Digital engineering is about using models and computer resources together to do engineering tasks, such as design, analysis, prototyping and experimentation with concepts, she explained.
“The easy way to think about it is it’s a lot like a video game world. But in our video-game world, we can do very large concepts, such as moving vehicles around on a battlefield and we can also go into very detailed work, such as [documenting] friction caused by wind flow going over turbine blades,” Zimmerman said.
Like an email thread captures information as it is sent to and from recipients, digital engineering allows people to view up-to-date engineering information for a project, in a community-sharing environment.
Models, Computer Data
A model — such as a picture, blueprint or spreadsheet — is shared on a computer, which combines data about a project, Zimmerman said.
“That allows different acquisition domain experts, whether an engineer, design engineer, sustainment engineer, or a power engineer, to collaborate on the problem using the same relevant data,” she said.
Because digital engineering allows people working on the same project to move in the same direction toward the same objective, the approach eliminates duplication, which saves time and costs. “You also reduce errors, because you’re not doing things multiple times,” Zimmerman said.
DoD also is working with the private sector and academia worlds on its strategy, she said.
While not entirely new, digital engineering techniques have been used in many programs — for example — Air Force A-10 aircraft upgrade on its wings; design support for the Ford-class aircraft carriers, future vertical lift analysis. Such an approaches help maintain connectivity between the different engineering, acquisition, and operational activities, such as sustainment, Zimmerman said.
Confronting Global Threats
With today’s numerous global threats, digital engineering helps battle cyber concerns, terrorism and new technology developed by near-peer competitors Russia and China, she noted.
For example, if a particular underwater threat to ship hulls exists, protections to include cyber capabilities can be put in place with digital engineering, Zimmerman said.
“By understanding complex system interactions,” she added, “we can now start to model them and we can get to [Defense Secretary James N. Mattis’] speed of relevance.” (Follow Terri Moon Cronk on Twitter: @MoonCronkDoD)
11 Sept 18. Pilots test new digital displays in Black Hawk helicopters to replace decades-old analog controls. The nearly 40-year-old helicopter that is the centerpiece of Army aviation is getting a control panel that rivals a brand-new Lamborghini. Soldiers with the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, recently conducted tests alongside experimental test pilots from Redstone Test Center, Alabama, of the new digital systems on the UH-60V Black Hawk helicopters. The system will upgrade the existing navigation suite, install a digital integrated glass cockpit and replace the decades-old analog controls, according to an Army release. The prototype testing is informing an initial operational test and evaluation of the upgraded Black Hawk, scheduled for late 2019, according to the release.
Derek Muller, a Black Hawk test officer with the Army’s Operational Test Command Center, said that the testing helped evaluators observe how pilots interacted with the new system.
“The evaluation will also inform a low-rate initial production decision later this year, allowing the Utility Helicopter Program Office to move forward with limited production.”
Pilots ran through a range of scenarios during the testing, including air movement, air assault, and external load missions under day, night, night-vision goggle, and simulated instrument meteorological modes of flight, according to the release.
The test also included threat simulations to simulate the helicopter’s survivability equipment and induce pilot actions using the updated capabilities. Ground crews from the 82nd CAB hooked up sling loads during some of the missions, testing the new cockpit displays while carrying an external load.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 David Bragg, with the 82nd CAB, said the digital cockpit “improved situational awareness.”
Maj. Michael Pinter, a Redstone experimental test pilot, said after an air assault mission that the multifunction display acted as his navigator during the test. (Source: Army Times)
11 Sept 18. USAF Secretary outlines strategy for new software acquisition model. US Air Force (USAF) Secretary Heather Wilson has outlined the strategy for upgrading and modernising the service’s old and outdated software acquisition model. The presentation was made during the Air Force Information Technology and Cyberpower Conference held in Montgomery, Alabama, US. According to Wilson, the upgrade to the software acquisition model is important to enable the airforce to compete or be in line with the technological advances of potential adversaries.
Wilson said: “We are facing a rapidly innovating adversary who is challenging us, and we have to be willing to accept more risk in our acquisition process. This is particularly true when it comes to software.”
She added that the US Air Force Weapons Systems Software Management Guidebook is an outdated document that cites practices from an even older document.
Wilson said: “It is ten years old. It was written before Airbnb, Uber, Lyft, Snapchat, Instagram and Pinterest were even incorporated.
Wilson further added: “So, we’re now leaving the past behind. We’re going to accelerate to a new future driven by the threat that we face and move to a new paradigm for software development.”
With new advanced developments and acquisitions in hardware and software, the USAF will help support the implementation of the new National Defense Strategy in the US. In May, the USAF opened a new software lab in Boston. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
10 Sept 18. Vitavox, the Elstree, Herts., GB based, division of Secomak Ltd., is exhibiting a comprehensive display of military communications systems. These include military-grade loudspeakers, microphones and other sound reproducing equipment at DVD 2018, held at Millbrook, Bedfordshire, UK, from September 19 – 20 on Stand C3-223. Products on display include the Outacom® Tactical Public Address System, development models of the Vitavic 400c Intercom System and the Secure Audio Integration System (SAIS).
“We offered an Outacom® PA System to the Armoured Trials and Development Unit at Bovington, who agreed to install it on their Panther Range vehicle on a ‘without prejudice basis’. That system was seen by key members of the MOD and crucially GDUK who were in the process of developing their bid for AJAX. Vitavox had been developing the concept of ‘Shout Before You Shoot’ for some time. We found traction in this concept at Abbey Wood and GDUK following several serious incidents in Iraq, with the photos of blazing soldiers in Warrior turrets splashed across the headlines. We were asked to demonstrate the system to GDUK, after which Outacom was written into the specification for AJAX and we secured the contract for all 589 systems, worth over £5m in 2017. Outacom was officially launched at DSEI in 2017. Having Outacom mandated as a ‘must have’ function on AJAX, Vitavox remains focussed on executing a ‘read-across’ strategy that will culminate in having Outacom available on all future and existing UK MOD vehicle platforms. We also won an order from UTACS for a bespoke Vitavic 400 solution, complete with aviation timestamping and recording function for the radio distribution, control and UAV monitoring system in the ground control station for the new Thales Watchkeeper X Export Variant. We are also developing a new secure system, SAIS (Secure Audio Integration System) for a customer. SAIS illustrates a ‘step change’ in Vitavox’s tactical audio design capabilities in that we are now involved in the development of a switching system containing routers to handle audio at a ‘secret’ level. This opens the door for Vitavox to become involved in providing audio solutions for more, high-level UK projects.” David Hebden, Head Of Business Development said.
Vitavox Outacom® Tactical Public Address System
Vitavox Outacom is a vehicle mounted tactical public address system for use on all tracked and wheeled armoured fighting vehicles. Built to rigorous military standards, Outacom is robust, powerful and enables direct communication to distances of up to 300m.
Crucially, Outacom keeps personnel protected inside the AFV and away from possible danger. The system aids disperse crowds and clear areas whilst maintaining a full understanding of latent threat. Outacom is deployed on AJAX and its variants, integrating into the British Army’s leading-edge ISTAR platform. Fundamental to the flexibility of AJAX, the Outacom Tactical PA system works in partnership with other AJAX technologies; enabling warning, instruction and de-escalation of potential risk to civilians, personnel and equipment. Compatible with the Vitavic range of intercom systems, Outacom integrates and switches seamlessly using the Outacom Control Unit, which also ensures full communication traffic security.
Consisting of two Compact Broadcast Loudspeakers, the Outacom Control Unit and two Noise Cancelling Microphones and brackets; the system is blast proof, shockproof and weatherproof (IP67), enabling reliable service in critical situations.
Direct, command and control your vehicle’s locality, with the Outacom® Vehicle Mounted Tactical Public Address System.
Vitavic 400 Tactical Vehicle Intercom System
A truly Software Defined (SD) system, Vitavic 400 is a fully digital, military specification intercom designed with the end user in mind.
- Suitable for vehicles with up to 21 crew members and 6 combat net radios
- Operate with any encrypted peripherals and signals with no manufacturer input required
- Fully upgradeable and easily programmable via a standard laptop or fill gun, with no down time required
- Dismounted personnel stay connected via short range soldier radio or field telephone interface
- Rebroadcast from two to an expanded capability of six different combat radios.
- Full radio access
Vitavic 407 Tactical Loudspeaker
The robust and compact Vitavic 407 Loudspeaker is already standard equipment on the MOD’s Foxhound. The full solution can be integrated into new vehicles and via a vehicle upgrade programme for existing serving platforms.
Vitavox is the sponsor of the BATTLESPACE DVD Show Dailies.
09 Sep 18. DARPA’s new $2bn initiative for next-level AI. Leaders at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency announced Sept. 7 a $2bn initiative, known as AI Next, that aims to substantially improve artificial intelligence research.
“With AI Next, we are making multiple research investments aimed at transforming computers from specialized tools to partners in problem-solving,” Steven Walker, the agency’s director, said in a press release. “Today, machines lack contextual reasoning capabilities, and their training must cover every eventuality, which is not only costly, but ultimately impossible. We want to explore how machines can acquire human-like communication and reasoning capabilities, with the ability to recognize new situations and environments and adapt to them.”
As a result of the effort, DARPA leaders envision improving day-to-day processes, such as vetting for security clearances in a week or accrediting software systems for operational deployment in a day or less. DARPA said it plans to announce multiple broad agency announcements in the next year. The announcement marks the second major artificial intelligence-related initiative in the last three months. In late June, the Department of Defense announced its Joint AI Center, which is expected to help provide a road map for the department’s nearly 600 AI-related programs, including the controversial Project Maven program. The funding is a parallel effort to the Department of Defense’s Joint AI Center, known as JAIC, which is expected to cost about $1.7bn in the coming years. That program is run through the DOD CIO’s office and is expected to focus more on applications for artificial intelligence while the DARPA programs will concentrate on answering questions related to the “foundational science” related to AI.
DARPA has a history of working on AI project. It is currently funding about 20 AI related programs and said its initial funding on the topic dates back to the 1960s. Leaders describe the new investment as working toward what they call the third wave of AI. The first wave focused on rule-based systems for narrow tasks and a second wave has been used to find statistical patterns in large data sets. But DARPA leaders are describing a third wave as one of “contextual adaptation.”
In a press conference at the conclusion of DARPA’s D60 symposium, agency leaders said the new initiative would include a focus on explainable AI, in other words, how a machine arrived at its answer. They also said they expect a broader discussion of ethics related to artificial intelligence. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
Oxley Group Ltd
Oxley specialises in the design and manufacture of advanced electronic and electro-optic components and systems for air, land and sea applications within the military sector. Established in 1942, Oxley has manufacturing facilities in the UK and USA and enjoys representation worldwide. The company’s products include night vision and LED lighting, data capture systems and electronic components. Oxley has pioneered the development of night vision compatible lighting. It offers a total package incorporating optical filters, equipment modification, cockpit and external lighting along with fleet wide upgrade services including engineering, installation, support, maintenance and training. The company’s long experience of manufacturing night vision lighting and LED indicators, coupled with advances in LED technology, has enabled it to develop LED solutions to replace incandescent and fluorescent lighting in existing applications as well as becoming the lighting option of choice in new applications such as portable military hospitals, UAV control stations and communication shelters.