Architecting hardware, software & communications for the electronic battlefield
Today’s defense systems contain broad requirements that encompass the design of a complex set of interconnected components that operate seamlessly across ground, air and space. Understanding the requirements, operating challenges and schedule to size and price the contract is a significant challenge. It is difficult to get an accurate estimate of the schedule and pricing solely by resorting to prior experience, building prototypes or even creating models of the algorithms.
Unknown and uncertain conditions can only be identified with a system simulation prototype that captures the operation of the entire system. The development of a functional virtual model that traces the end-to-end operations of the entire system, without adding the details of the algorithms, hardware implementation details and software code, is the only viable approach to test feasibility during the proposal writing phase and design specification.
New mandates are requiring that the Government be highly involved in the simulation phase. Simulation studies and the transfer of these models are a requirement of most proposals. In addition, these models must be correlated against the prototype system, used for specification, communication and operator training. The low-cost approach of Government and Defense contracts require extensive architecture exploration and conformance modeling for constraints such as processor utilization, memory sizing, communication systems and environmental impacts. The models must describe the hardware and software systems to maximize the modeling efforts to the unknown regions of the design. Models must be shareable with the government without huge investment from both sides for demonstration compliance and design superiority, either as part of the documentation or using a Web-based interface.
To study the impact of functional and performance simulation, we have used the Aerial Common Sensor program (ACS) of the United States Army and Navy. The project was announced in 2000 and awarded to Lockheed-Martin 2004. It was cancelled a year and half later for a variety of reasons mentioned. They include the contractor’s failure to understand program requirements and the Army piling on requirements that couldn’t be fit on the chosen platform.
In this article, we present a methodology and solution that could have helped both the prime contractor and the Army to identify issues with the requirements and the proposal very early in the process. This would have significantly reduced the cost burden to both parties and would have allowed for a smooth deployment.
In the ACS project, the Army ACS System will consist of seven (7) Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft, each outfitted with sensor payloads, communications, navigation suites and aircraft survivability equipment. The Distributed Common Ground System-Army (DCGS-A) will be the ground system for ACS, and must be integrated ACS system.
Navy ACS Systems will contain the same payloads and will be deployed in squadrons of six (6) aircraft. Although the Army and Navy Systems will have on board operators, both ACS Systems will be connected to a DCGS that will have the ability to perform required TPED/TPPU capabilities.