Sensor Life Cycle Acquisition and Training with Modeling & Simulation
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Posted: February 9, 2016 | By: Susan Harkrider, Keith Krapels, Andrew Krug, Lana E. McGlynn

The U.S. Army’s Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate (NVESD) Modeling and Simulation Division (MSD) provides sensors acquisition engineering and analytical support and an extensive set of Government-owned Models and Simulations (M&S) to several Army Program Executive Offices/Project and Program Managers (PEO/PMs), supporting numerous Army acquisition programs across their life cycle. The MSD is organized to support sensor analysis, development, experimentation, testing, fielding, training and operations by: 1) providing sensor performance modeling, 2) refining models through field and laboratory measurements of developed sensors, and 3) developing models and simulations using physics-based algorithms of actual sensor performance or platforms. The M&S includes electro-optic, infrared, acoustic, magnetic, seismic, synthetic aperture and ground penetrating radar sensors, as well as certain munition effects related to the sensors’ capabilities.

The NVESD MSD uses M&S to improve systems acquisition processes by reducing time, risk and resources while increasing utility and supportability. This paper will explain how the MSD has successfully utilized M&S throughout the acquisition life cycle of several programs, to include the Long Range Scout Surveillance System (LRAS3). Additionally, the paper provides a description of the development of the New Equipment Training (NET) simulation systems and their transition to a fielded, sustained simulator training solution.

Defense Acquisition Management System

The Defense Acquisition System exists to manage the nation’s investments in technologies, programs, and product support necessary to achieve the National Security Strategy and support the United States Armed Forces. DoD Acquisition Policy is articulated in two principal documents: DoD Directive 5000.01 which describes management principles and overarching policy, and Interim DoD Instruction 5000.02 which describes the operation of the Defense Acquisition Management System. The Defense Acquisition Management System is an event-based process, and is commonly referred to as the acquisition life cycle. The generic model for this process is illustrated in Figure 1. PMs are authorized to tailor this model using discretion and prudent business judgment to structure an innovative, responsive program.

The life cycle process consists of periods of time, called phases, separated by decision points called milestones (MS). Some phases are divided into two efforts separated by program reviews. These milestones and other decision points provide both the PM and milestone decision authorities (MDAs) the framework with which to review acquisition programs, monitor and administer progress, identify problems, and make corrections.

Modeling and Simulation can be used to support the life cycle process from determination of mission needs; research; development; production; deployment; support; upgrade; and finally, demilitarization and disposal. When used properly, M&S can help reduce costs, accelerate development, support test and evaluation, and better inform decision makers.

Figure 1: DoD Acquisition Process

Materiel Solution Analysis Phase

The purpose of the Materiel Solution Analysis phase is to conduct the analysis and other activities needed in order to choose the concept for the product that will be acquired and to begin translating validated capability gaps into system-specific requirements, including the Key Performance Parameters (KPPs) and Key System Attributes (KSAs). The process begins with Need Identification, called the Materiel Development Decision by DoD, and simply stated is the decision that a new product is needed. This decision directs execution of the Analysis of Alternatives (AoA), and authorizes the DoD Component to conduct the Materiel Solution Analysis phase. To achieve the best possible system solution, the Materiel Solution Analysis phase places emphasis on innovation and competition. The PM examines existing, commercial off-the-shelf and other solutions drawn from a diverse range of large and small businesses. An AoA and a technology development strategy are developed to help guide the efforts during the next phase, which is technology development. The lead Component recommends a materiel solution to the capability need identified in the initial requirements document (ICD). The Materiel Solution Analysis phase concludes when the PM has completed assessing potential materiel solutions, and satisfying the entrance criteria for next milestone designated by the Milestone Decision Authorities (MDA).

NVESD is currently supporting an AoA for an Optical Augmentation Pre-Threat Detection system working with the Army’s Maneuver Support Center of Excellence (MSCoE) Capability Development and Integration Directorate (CDID) at Fort Leonard Wood. NVESD will be using M&S to simulate the capability of the conceptual systems to determine the preferred attributes and their associated values with defensible analytic evidence. The objective of the analysis is to inform the MDA, currently PEO-Soldier, and to be used to help mitigate capability gaps identified while meeting affordability goals.

The Army’s Combat Developers (CD) from Fort Leonard Wood previously utilized NVESD MSD expertise and M&S to assist in reaching a MS A decision for an Intelligent Munition System (IMS). Using the requirements provided by the CD via the ICD and draft Capability Development Document (CDD), NVESD modeled the IMS using the Night Vision Toolset’s Comprehensive Munition and Sensor Server (CMS2). Working with the Army’s Maneuver Battle Lab at Fort Knox to establish simulation scenarios, NVESD successfully analyzed measures of effectiveness and system performance parameters for the conceptual IMS. The results of the M&S efforts directly influenced the MDA as part of an AoA and helped satisfy the entrance criteria for the Technology Develop phase. The models developed during this phase were later refined to help the MDA through the down-select process. PM Scorpion was established to manage the IMS system that further leveraged NVESD MSD for use during the Engineering & Manufacturing Development phase to assess system performance in support of MS B and C decisions.

NVESD MSD also uses M&S to support the Material Solution Analyses phase and to design studies to identify the preferred solutions within future sensor systems. To support sensor analysis and development, the NVESD MSD develops and provides the Night Vision Integrated Performance Model (NV-IPM). This integrated set of sensor performance characteristics is based on physics research performed by the laboratory. The NV-IPM is a systems engineering tool that enables model-based engineering with a simple interface for trade studies. The sensor characteristics and modeled parameters can be provided as specifications to industry for actual development. The integrated model allows for a common baseline of performance specifications and scene conditions to enable prototype sensor systems development by industry. The NVESD MSD validated physics models enable the laboratory to compare many diverse sensor systems based on current research and/or potential development.

Sensor performance models are used both for data collection and analysis, and to support concept experiments and capabilities assessments. For example, the NVESD MSD used a virtual simulation to measure and determine the overall effectiveness of a virtual pointer (VP) targeting system, ultraviolet (UV) target marking system, and a system combining the two technologies during the Material Solution Analysis phase of the projects. The simulation also included a Soldier (human-in-the-loop) subjective survey that helped to identify the preferred solutions for pointer shapes, sizes, colors and reticle patterns within future optics systems. This subjective data was analyzed along with the sensor performance data to determine what factors led to the best target acquisition and identification times using the various targeting technologies. An example of a future optics design experiment is shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2: Future Optics Design Experiment 

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