May 2005 
Volume 04, Issue 1 
Integrated Defense Systems

Here's how it works

New Virtual Warfare Center demonstrates network-centric capabilities


This month's debut of the new Virtual Warfare Center in St. Louis takes Boeing and its U.S. Department of Defense customers to greater heights in shaping future warfare capabilities.

The three-story, 70,000-square-foot center was designed to conduct complex military mission simulations in a collaborative, network-centric environment. Operators—including commanders, warfighters, and software and systems analysts—rely on the center to test and challenge new technologies, tactics and human behavior via real-time scenarios. From the collected data and intelligence, they can better understand and prepare for live operations—and make more cost-effective business decisions before committing dollars and resources.

"When our customers think about the various levels of warfare, they need a place to plot strategies, integrate intelligence and implement commanders' intent," said Gary Pendleton, Boeing Virtual Warfare Center new programs manager. "They also need to see how systems, such as the F-15 or F/A-18, work in a network-centric environment in the real world."

Here's how it worksThe center features upgraded, state-of-the-art computer and systems equipment. It also has two identically designed floors that each feature a virtual theater and display, as well as breakout rooms, to fully execute a customer's operation.

"With two operational floors, we now have the capability to run two tests simultaneously with two different customers," Pendleton said.

At the core of the strategy behind the Virtual Warfare Center is Boeing's system-of-systems, operator-in-the-loop approach.

"When you're trying to conduct a mission, one system isn't enough," explained Pendleton. "You have many systems—and it's the way in which these pieces talk to each other, integrate and connect. The systems together—called a system of systems—collectively enable the mission to be performed." Systems include aircraft, computer systems, technologies, military intelligence and human behavior.

Boeing software engineers specialize in developing, implementing and integrating customized software for customers to effectively execute and gather data from scenarios. Operator-in-the-loop simulations use sophisticated computer code to fuse human behavior with simulated systems.

"The most complicated thing to simulate is human action," explained Pendleton. "Our focus is on what humans do and how they react."

To conduct large- or small-scale tests, the Virtual Warfare Center can connect with different operations within the building. It also can connect with other Boeing and government modeling and simulation facilities, including the Boeing Integration Centers in Anaheim, Calif., and in Crystal City, Va.

Ultimately, the Virtual Warfare Center enables Boeing and its military customers to work more closely together. That lets Boeing better serve its customers' needs and goals earlier in a project in a cost-effective and timely manner.

"Working through scenarios in advance improves and shortens the acquisition process, more efficiently identifies the best capabilities to benefit the warfighter and identifies new uses for existing technologies," Pendleton said.

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