July 2004 
Volume 03, Issue 3 
Special Features

Boeing's simulation network: building a battle-theater solution

Boeing’s simulation networkOne way to determine how the customer would utilize networkcentric operations solutions is to perform simulations and try out various scenarios to see what would happen in an NCO environment. Boeing has in place and plans to improve a broad-based modeling, simulation and analysis capability that Mike Heinz, vice president of Integrated Defense Advanced systems (IDeAS), has described as "world class."

"Modeling, simulation and analysis is extremely important and will become even more important in the future with a networked system of systems," Heinz said. "We have some really world-class simulation facilities and capabilities that are all connected through a system called Lab Net. What we want to do is upgrade this system so all of our facilities become nodes that can be part of an ad hoc operational network environment, just like the real operational environment."

The current facilities and capabilities include

  • The Boeing Integration Center in Anaheim, Calif., a visualization center that has provided more than 16,000 visitors with visual demonstrations of what a future NCO environment might look like.
  • The Boeing Integration Center-East in Crystal City, Va., which opened in June.
  • The Virtual Warfare Center in St. Louis that provides interactive mission simulations for military customers.
  • The Center for Integrated Defense Simulation in St. Louis that provides virtual and constructive modeling and simulations for tactical platforms, electronic warfare and training systems.
  • The Integrated Technology Development Laboratories in Seattle that provide simulations for such programs as Future Combat Systems, AWACS, and Unmanned Systems.
  • Rotorcraft simulation facilities in Mesa, Ariz., and Philadelphia.
  • Strategic Development and Analysis in Huntington Beach, Calif., Seattle, St. Louis and Washington, D.C.

What's even more important than the networked facilities are "the intellectual resources" that Boeing brings to the area of modeling, simulation and analysis, said Conrad Ball, Boeing Phantom Works director of Laboratories and Test Technologies.

"Boeing people possess tremendous knowledge of how to perform insightful constructive analyses and to use these results, coupled with advanced networking technologies, to develop powerful real-time demonstrations that incorporate live and simulated entities," he said. "We have people on our team who have a good understanding of the operational scenarios into which we can place our products and help our customers understand potential future opportunities."

As part of its plan to improve its capabilities, Boeing has begun a project called the Joint Virtual Test Bed that's intended to create the kind of fully networked, fully interactive simulation environment that would truly meet the future needs of the customer, Ball said. All Boeing modeling, simulation and analysis facilities will be part of the same network, which will be compliant with the Boeing-developed Strategic Architecture Reference Model. The JVT will let customers inject new elements into simulations that are running in real time in connection with real assets-such as aircraft or ground vehicles-operating in the field, he said.

"Our strategy is not to build new visualization or simulation centers specifically for the U.S. Navy or the U.S. Air Force, but to tie all of our capabilities together so that they're all seen to be interoperating in a network," Ball said. "What we envision are systems internal to Boeing and accessible to our customers that clearly demonstrate our ability to deliver network solutions for the future."

In addition to improving its modeling, simulation and analysis capabilities, Boeing is actively seeking new technologies that could play a valuable role in the NCO environment. Don Winter's Network-Centric Operations Thrust within Phantom Works has the job of identifying what Winter calls "best-in-class, enabling technologies that we need to be competitive in the NCO arena." These technologies could be developed either by Boeing or by outside partners.

Some of the NCO-related technologies that Phantom Works thrusts are working with are new types of handheld computers and visor systems as well as human-machine interfaces to enable people to operate more effectively in a network; intelligent agent software that would act as a filter of network information; and innovative methods to e-enable existing platforms "in the least intrusive way possible without throwing out everything but the tail," Winter said.

-Daryl Stephenson


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