Air Force Research Laboratory Innovation – Pushing the Envelope in Analytical Wargaming


Posted: December 1, 2016 | By: Jaime J. Bestard

Capabilities for Enterprise Wargaming

The AFRL has been an active user and developer of M&S tools in support of its technological innovation mission. Some of these tools, spanning the levels of M&S in the widely-known military pyramid, have supported past wargames (see Figure 2). In addition, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) is conducting basic research for the AFRL in optimization, game theory, artificial intelligence, and data analytics research with the potential to impact the execution of future wargames.


Figure 2. Military M&S pyramid

Simulations used by the AFRL at the engineering level are numerous and mainly applied for technology development (e.g., computer-aided engineering, finite element analysis). Of these, there is one M&S capability that should be exploited to advance wargame quality. The Threat Modeling and Analysis Program (TMAP) is an initiative that offers authoritative threat models, predicting system characteristics and performance capabilities. This capability can improve game design by providing analytical support to scenario development, adjudication planning, and red system descriptions. The projected addition of artificial intelligence to the M&S environment will also improve simulation utility as models “self-learn” during an engagement and optimize established courses of action accordingly.

At the engagement level there have been several AFRL opportunities to evaluate the integration of M&S into future wargames. The Munitions Directorate has used the Endgame Framework environment to quantify the effects of munition blasts and fragments against the fault-tree of system components in target models to provide probability of kill (PK). Endgame Framework modules coupled with the Integrated Environment for Weapons Analysis (IWEA) are used to quantify kinetic (blast and fragmentation) and directed energy munition effectiveness against ground targets. Finally, the Munitions Directorate uses a six-degree-of-freedom (6 DOF) MATLAB/Simulink architecture titled Engagement-Level Visually Intuitive Simulation (ELVIS) to visualize engagements using an assembly of modules.

The 711th Human Performance Wing has used various simulations for assessing directed energy bio-effects during wargames. The High Energy Laser Scatter from Targets (HELCAT) simulation has been used during concept development to provide “danger close” biological effects estimates through the application of standards and dose-response models at common high-energy laser wavelengths. The Directed Energy Weapon Decision Support Tool (DEW-DST) has also been used during concept development to simulate skin damage and repel behavior in millimeter-wave engagements. Finally, the Laser Hazard Assessment Software (LHAZ) and the Radio Frequency Hazard Assessment Software (RFHAZ) have provided analysis tools during concept development for basic laser/radio frequency quantification, protection requirements, and hazard classification.

The Directed Energy Directorate conducts engagement simulations during the game design phase. The Dynamic Aim-point Laser Engagement (DALE) provides the optimal aim-point selection for a laser weapon and a target response to incident laser irradiance, aim-point vulnerability, and selection of aim-point for the shortest time to kill. The Directed Energy Directorate uses a tool to determine the infrared (IR) characteristics of targets by providing signatures in three bands in a 360-degree bubble around the system at varying settings (e.g., throttle, altitude). The Directorate has also used a tool in adjudication planning to assess directed energy bio-effects. A version of this tool has been modified to support concept development and integrated into the Endgame Framework environment and IWEA to evaluate combined directed energy and kinetic engagements. This tool has also been used for real-time directed energy collateral hazard analysis, providing the laser shooter an estimate of effects on entities surrounding a target. The Joint Radio-frequency Effect Model (JREM) has been used to build lethality tables for High Power Electromagnetic (HPEM) weapons, supporting adjudication planning, and to conduct sensitivity analyses to determine key target elements to engage. Finally, the Directed Energy Directorate has used a collection of scaling laws and assorted support routines, Scaling for High Energy Laser and Relay Engagement (SHaRE), to calculate laser beam metrics and irradiance distributions for engagements.

While M&S options as we move higher in the pyramid begin to consolidate, AFRL has explored multiple opportunities at the mission level. The Sensors Directorate has used its Global Positioning System (GPS) Interference and Navigation Tool (GIANT) to determine the effectiveness of navigation systems in challenging A2AD environments. GIANT simulates GPS control, space and user segments for a broad range of GPS user-equipment within a mission scenario environment in order to examine “system-of-systems” performance. This tool, coupled with optimization and decision-support technologies, offers an opportunity for players to plan their courses of action effectively and for adjudicators to provide objective assessments of navigation system performance in contested environments.

The Aerospace Vehicles Directorate is a key contributor to AFRL modeling, simulation and analysis capability. RQ leads the development and maturation of the Advanced Framework for Simulation Integration and Modeling (AFSIM). AFSIM is the M&S framework mandated by the AFRL commander for integrated technology/multi domain mission level modeling and simulation. AFSIM allows rapid scenario composability from engineering to mission level simulations and can be used for both constructive and virtual simulations. The AFSIM framework provides a flexible agent modeling architecture supporting subsurface to space warfighting domains. AFSIM provides a realistic, perception-based representation of systems with tracking, correlation and fusion algorithms which can be linked to other simulations via distributed interactive simulations (DIS) or high-level architectures (HLA). The framework employs an integrated development environment and visualization tool that can be exploited to support multi-domain wargame scenarios. The Air Force Studies, Analyses and Assessments Directorate (AF/A9) and the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center Simulation and Analysis Facility (AFLCMC/SIMAF) are active stakeholders of the AFSIM framework, supporting compatibility and extending the capability to the campaign level. The Munitions Directorate also uses AFSIM for weapon fly-out and survivability estimates in mission-level simulations.

The Directed Energy Directorate has used the Reconfigurable Tactical Operations Simulator (RTOS), a modular, high-fidelity, soldier-in-the-loop, real-time distributed interactive simulation and high-level architecture compliant computer simulation, to support analyses of tactical data link interfaces during game play. The Air Warfare Simulation (AWSIM), the approved Air Force model for full spectrum air warfare operations training and experimentation, has been used to support the definition and laydown of friendly, hostile, and neutral assets in a synthetic warzone where players can then control their forces. Big Tac, a flexible, high-fidelity threat environment capable of presenting a combination of air threats and ground based air defense threats, has been used to enhance immersion of players in a synthetic combat environment. The Directorate uses a stand-alone virtual (man-in-the-loop) simulation station designed to operate as an airborne asset, simulating either an E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) or E-8 Joint Surveillance and Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS) or both. This tool can be potentially integrated into future wargames involving these platforms. The Extended Air Defense Simulation (EADSIM) is a many-on-many simulation of combined air, missile and space warfare. It is uniquely capable of modeling platforms at a high level of detail and simulating the interaction among multiple platforms. The Modern Air Combat Environment (MACE), a physics-based, many-on-many simulation and threat environment with a large order of battle, is ideally suited for both standalone mission rehearsal and distributed mission simulation. The Next Generation Threat System (NGTS) has been used to model enemy and friendly aircraft, ground units, ships and submarines, associated weapons, sensors, and subsystems. The Space Simulation Generator (SSG) has provided space orders of battle for exercises and training events. Finally, the Directed Energy Directorate has used the eXpert Common Immersive Theater Environment (XCITE), a virtual battlespace software tool, combining high-fidelity Electronic Attack/Electronic Warfare (EA/EW), energy-based aerodynamics, physics-based radar modeling, threat, and theater force models with robust command and control capability.

Though much of the M&S required for technology research, development, test and evaluation occurs at the physics, engineering and engagement levels, the AFRL must also assess military utility at the campaign level. The Munitions Directorate uses the Synthetic Theater Operations Research Model (STORM) to study the effects of a given set of munitions on the length and cost of a military campaign. The Aerospace Vehicles Directorate uses the Analysis of Mobility Platform (AMP), a United States Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM) model, to represent end-to-end deployments and quantify operational energy requirements. This last federation of tools consists of a Model for Inter-theater Deployment by Air & Sea (MIDAS), the Enhanced Logistics Intra-theater Support Tool (ELIST), the Capability Analysis and Modeling for Energy Logistics (CAMEL) and the AMP Port Analysis (AMP – PAT). Finally, the Aerospace Vehicles Directorate also uses the Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) Space and Missile Operations Simulator (COSMOS), a flexible system-of-systems model suite representing space, air, ground, surface, subsurface systems with ISR, weapons, communications, cyber, survivability functions.

The integration of analytical capabilities (see Figures 1 and 3) into future wargames enables AFRL to probe the military utility of emerging technologies and offers an opportunity to evaluate their impact on the battlespace and how they can augment the total force to improve its effectiveness. To facilitate integration, the AFRL wargaming staff is also exploring the use of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) tools that offer large-scale flexibility ranging from detailed models to advanced, near real-time, mission and campaign simulations. The exploration focuses on tools with readily-available databases that address the capabilities and limitations of a variety of war fighting assets within the full range of military operations. Once an overarching tool has been identified as the foundation for AFRL war-gaming, a common data format will be established for the exchange of information with other models and simulations. This approach will avoid unnecessary duplication of effort, allowing existing M&S tools to continue supporting their primary missions, while adding analytical rigor to advanced technology wargames. These analytical wargames will inform future Air Force and AFRL investment decisions.


Figure 3. AFRL – M&S Capabilities in Support of Wargaming

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