Aegis Combat System ‘Virtual Twin’ 2017

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Unread post07 Dec 2017, 07:31 ... more-29845

Aegis Combat System ‘Virtual Twin’ Pilot Program Could Lead to Fielding Faster Upgrades

By: Megan Eckstein
December 6, 2017 3:29 PM

The Navy will deploy a “virtual twin” of the Aegis Combat System in February that, if the pilot program proves successful, could one day help the service test new Aegis upgrades or add-ons on a cruiser or destroyer at-sea without interfering with that ship’s actual combat system and ability to operate. The virtual twin is the entire set of code that makes up the Aegis Combat System Baseline 9 housed within a few computer servers that takes up much less room than the actual Aegis Combat System on a guided-missile destroyer or cruiser, Aegis Integrated Warfare Systems Major Program Manager Capt. Todd Boehm told USNI News on Dec. 5.

This virtual twin is already operating at Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren in Virginia, but his office has a three-step crawl-walk-run process planned to get the virtual twin out to sea and test its capabilities, he told USNI News at the American Society of Naval Engineers’ annual Combat Systems Symposium. In February, the Navy will put the Aegis virtual twin on a destroyer going through its Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) and “what we’ll be testing in that early test is how we might be able to introduce an algorithm, if you will, to a baseline build and test it real-time, using real-time input from the system. We’ll be taking a passive [tap] off the tactical suite on the ship,” Boehm explained, so while the ship’s installed Aegis Combat System is controlling operations during COMPTUEX, the virtual twin would be “seeing” the exact same scenario and responding based on the additional algorithm it has – in this case, an algorithm to improve the surface tracking picture. “In addition to the virtual twin that we’ll have on the ship, there’s also accompanying (automated) test/re-test capability on the ship,” Boehm said. “So at any time we want to run or record data – or see, in the case of our test in February, we’ll have plans to have an algorithm that helps improve the surface tracking picture – we’ll be able to run on the ship that ATRT which will tell me right then on the ship how well the system did, where my problems are, how it performed functionally.” If successful, the Aegis virtual twin would prove out this new algorithm in a tactically relevant situation at sea without any additional cost for at-sea testing, since the destroyer would be going through its COMPTUEX with or without this virtual twin testing.

...... to allow real-time OQE (objective quality evidence), real-time certification, real-time adjustments to the computer program, and then push that right back out to the ship without having to wait 18 months, 24 months to actually have to go back in, re-code, re-test, re-certify, take it out on the range, and so forth,” Boehm said....

.. every two years a new software advanced capability build (ACB) is released but isn’t always pushed to ships very quickly – submarines may wait six years or cruisers and destroyers nine years, if the update just misses them in a maintenance availability. .

..“if I were developing an aircraft program today, why wouldn’t I make sure that my simulators, when I introduce that capability to the fleet, that I’ve got that simulation environment that is current and can allow them to train to that full extent? We’re still having to update F-18 simulators today to enable folks to train to NIFC-CA (Naval Integrated Fire Control-Counter Air). That’s ridiculous, we should have done that as part of, if not the F-18 development cycle at the beginning, certainly when we started doing the software upgrades to the aircraft for NIFC-CA, we should have attacked the virtual environment at the same time. So we need to roll that in just as quickly as we can. As I mentioned … we are rolling capabilities-based test and evaluation into some of our programs real-time. We are rolling some of the systems-engineering transformation stuff into our programs that are already in the development cycle real-time. MQ-25 is kind of the first one I’ll say we’re trying to start from the get-go, but again, to your point, we can’t wait to do this on just new-start ACAT programs because we’ll never get anywhere. What we need to do is roll it out in as many pieces in as many programs as we possibly can so we can collectively learn from each other.

That’s the way we need to attack this.” PEO IWS is moving ahead with multiple ways to virtualize its systems in pursuit of this vision. Small, the program executive officer, told USNI News that “at the end of the day it’s a rack of computers in a space off to the side with engineers and sailors checking it out,” but the Aegis virtual twin pilot program is part of a “digital revolution” and is the biggest contribution the PEO can make right now. “Doing this for Aegis is huge,” Small said. “The ramifications of it for the Aegis system are huge.” Boehm, the Aegis program manager, added that “that model that we’re describing here, that’s already out in industry. It’s how Tesla has gotten out ahead of their competition. There’s a lot of potential for us using this capability, if in fact it proves itself out, to get way ahead of that technological curve of potential adversaries that we know [Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson] has challenged us to go do. I’m pretty excited about it and passionate about it and certainly looking forward to next year and being able to go execute it.”

....this process has been in use in the safety systems industry for at least 10yrs. and not only is used for training in simulators but also allows me to run an initial data comparison between what was installed/ certified 5yrs. ago but identifies "ALL" of the field changes (Management of Change) in operations and provides a baseline of what requires certification.

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