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

Technology Maturation and Risk Reduction Phase

The Technology Development Phase begins after the Milestone A decision has been reached. The ICD and Technology Development Strategy guide the work during the Technology Development phase. The purpose of this phase is to reduce technology risk, determine the appropriate set of technologies to be integrated into a full system, and complete a preliminary design. M&S is used to support competitive prototyping to reduce technical risk, validate designs and cost estimates, evaluate manufacturing processes, and refine requirements. The project exits the Technology Development phase when an affordable program or increment of militarily useful capability has been identified, the technology has been demonstrated in a relevant environment, manufacturing risks have been identified and assessed, a preliminary design review has been conducted for the solution, and a system or increment can be developed for production within a short timeframe (normally less than 5 years for weapon systems), or when the MDA decides to terminate the effort. At MS B, the MDA approves the acquisition strategy, the acquisition program baseline, the type of contract for the next phase, and authorizes entry into the engineering and manufacturing development phase.

The following paragraphs are examples of how NVESD MSD provides simulations and data collection to support business case reviews (BCR) leading to Milestone B decisions on whether to proceed with further development of new sensor systems. To support the MS B decision for the future Family of Weapons Sights (FWS) capabilities, the MSD provided simulations support to PM Soldier Maneuver Sensors (SMS), under Project Manager Soldier Sensors and Lasers (PM SSL). The MSD planned, executed, and analyzed a series of data collection simulations comparing the FWS to the current Thermal Weapon Sights (TWS) capabilities, using Maneuver Battle Lab (MBL) approved scenarios with current Army Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (TTPs). The data collected was used to support a BCR that led to the decision to proceed with further development of the new sensor system.

Following the analysis PM SMS, in developing the Family of Weapon Sights – Individual (FWS-I) for Rapid Target Acquisition (RTA), wanted to determine the most effective and desirable user interface (UI) for the FWS-I. The NVESD MSD was tasked by PM SMS to create a series of simulation exercises, using a simulated FWS-I and human in-the-loop exercises, to determine the best UI configuration based on measurable analytical data and subjective Soldier feedback gathered via surveys. This study also analyzed items such as the RTA reticle attributes, response times, and the preferred menuing and overlay options for the system. Trends were identified to determine what features of the FWS-I UI should be considered as requirements for the system and were incorporated into a report to PM SMS. The MSD continues to support FWS analyses and tests as development proceeds.

In addition, PM SMS wanted to gather subjective feedback on a design for a remote switch for the FWS-I system. The proposed design of the remote switch has a different hardware configuration than previous remote operating switches used with similar sensor platforms. NVESD MSD created a physical prototype (see Figure 3) using a 3-D printer based on the design for the FWS-I remote switch. NVESD integrated a $10, commercial, off the shelf (COTS) game controller board providing the button layout and functionality of the switch. This prototype interacted with the NVESD MSD simulation of the FWS-I sensor enabling subjective feedback from Soldiers and civilians on form, fit, and functionality. The feedback was gathered via surveys and conversations with the test subjects and used to inform the MDA for a MS B decision.

Figure 3: 3-D Printed Prototype FWS-I Remote Switch

Sensor performance models and simulations are continually improved as industry prototypes and systems are tested during field and bench tests. The refined M&S are used for sensor testing, fielding, training and operations. The Program Manager Close Combat Systems (PM CCS) Scorpion system used a verified and validated NVESD MSD physicsbased model to provide munitions effectiveness and system performance estimates prior to live testing. NVESD MSD created a real time casualty assessment (RTCA) tool that intercepted a munition launch message, carried out the RTCA, and notified the human operator of whether their target had been killed or not. By using these M&S capabilities, PM CCS was able to determine weaknesses of their detection, and fusion algorithms and suggest corrections to the prime contractor before the problems were exposed in live testing. PM CCS was able to realize cost and schedule efficiencies by planning risk mitigation in advance, and eliminating the need for expensive and repetitious live field testing requiring the acquisition of expensive live targets with robotic controls.

Engineering and Manufacturing Development Phase

Entry into Engineering and Manufacturing Development phase is a significant milestone because it represents formal program initiation. The primary purpose of Systems Engineering in this phase is the reduction of system-level risk. During the Systems Engineering portion the following key activities are conducted: develop a system or an increment of capability; complete full-system integration; develop an affordable and executable manufacturing process; ensure operational supportability, with particular attention to minimizing the logistics footprint; implement human systems integration (HSI); design for producibility; ensure affordability; protect critical program information by implementing appropriate techniques such as anti-tamper; and demonstrate system integration, interoperability safety, and utility.

The second part of this phase typically contains two efforts: integrated systems design and system capability and manufacturing process demonstration. A post-critical design review (CDR) assessment by the MDA takes place to authorize entry into system capability and manufacturing process demonstration.

During the EMD phase of the Intelligent Munition System, PM Scorpion leveraged M&S to support and inform the MS C MDA. NVESD MSD Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) and M&S were used to verify system performance whenever modifications to the threat detection and engagement algorithms were made. To do so, NVESD MSD recorded meta-data from various developmental testing (DT) and operational test (OT) events involving prototype systems and live threat targets. The collected data enabled NVESD MSD to replay the live events using constructive simulation to assess the different outcomes based on changes to the algorithms.

In addition, live simulation was used to perform real-time casualty assessment (RTCA) against actual threat targets. Targets were outfitted with GPS transceivers, with their ground truth being received by the NVESD MSD simulation in real-time. The NVESD MSD simulation also operated on the tactical network to intercept live system launch messages. Once intercepted, the live launch messages caused the NVESD MSD simulated system to launch a virtual munition. The virtual munition executed its engagement algorithm against a threat based on the live ground truth received and performed the RTCA. The outcome of the RTCA was relayed to the threat vehicle wirelessly, and the operator was notified via a red strobe light in the event of a causality.

Production & Deployment Phase

The fourth phase of the life cycle is the Production & Deployment phase. It consists of two efforts; Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) and Full Rate Production and Deployment (FRP&D), separated by a Full Rate Production Decision Review (FRPDR). It begins after a successful Milestone C review. The key activities of this phase are: Intensive testing; DT, full-up system level Live Fire Test and Evaluation (LFT&E), Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E) and interoperability testing. The purpose of this phase is to achieve an operational capability that satisfies the mission need.

In September 2014, the current systems being supported have not reached the Production & Deployment phase, therefore no examples are available.

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