Volume 04, Issue 3
|Integrated Defense Systems|
Flexibility raises power of simulation facility
BY DOUG HOLMES
An unmanned aerial vehicle and AH-64 Apache attack helicopter take off from the desert near Mesa, Ariz., as a team of Boeing engineers and customers in St. Louis relays coordinates and participates in a maneuver simulation in Huntington Beach, Calif. Another team in a proprietary location is busy observing related hardware and computer systems to ensure the simulated combat mission is successful.
This scenario isn't just wishful thinking. The recently expanded Modeling, Simulation and Analysis Center (MSAC) at Boeing Rotorcraft Systems in Philadelphia is helping to make this vision a reality.
On May 16, Boeing, U.S. Army and local political leaders dedicated the new $4.5 million MSAC expansion, further augmenting the company's portfolio of network centric–enabled facilities.
The expanded MSAC merges multiple government, industry and Future Combat Systems (FCS) laboratories into a single-network environment of equipment and facilities across the United States. That environment allows Boeing, its industry partners and military customers to host multiple, simultaneous integration exercises. It also gives warfighters the ability to provide immediate feedback about the design and development of equipment they will eventually operate, saving the company and customers significant time, effort and money.
"The center will help develop cutting-edge technologies such as FCS that will enable our nation's military to fight their missions safely and more effectively," said U.S. Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Pa.), a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee.
Weldon added that the MSAC not only will facilitate the U.S. Army's transformation, it also will help transform the Boeing Philadelphia site, best known for rotorcraft development and manufacturing, into a future network-centric-operations center of excellence.
"We must continue to work leaner and smarter to give our military what it needs to respond to evolving threats," Weldon said. "We will transform the U.S. Army; and this center, as well as the employees who work at Boeing, will help us do that."
Used previously for rotorcraft development work, the MSAC features a high-bay area capable of housing vehicles and equipment connected to MSAC networks. It also features dome simulators, control and briefing rooms, and various laboratories linked together through a high-speed communications network. The facility includes a new 37-seat viewing portal that supports engineering and testing interactions with several Boeing centers and the FCS Defense Research Engineering Network, a national network providing viewing, integration and interaction capabilities.
"As the U.S. military shifts its focus toward network-centric operations, American industry has to stay ahead of those changes to ensure our soldiers have the advanced technologies they will require to prevail on the battlefields of the 21st century," said Roger Krone, vice president and general manager, Boeing Army Systems. "The expansion of the MSAC to include an FCS portal as well as rotorcraft and other military capabilities will allow customers to see firsthand how ultimate users will interact with systems and products that are still being designed."
Rupert Seals, a senior operations analyst and MSAC end user, said the expanded facility provides internal and external customers the flexibility they need to complete their simulation requirements.
"The center extends beyond FCS or rotorcraft simulations, giving us more ways to do more things," said Seals, who played a key role in the expansion effort. "We now can simulate a wide range of classified and unclassified missions for Boeing and non-Boeing customers alike. We will continue to grow and adapt to customers' needs. This facility has a bright future."
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