To speed the delivery of capabilities to the field, whether on new platforms or those already in use, military leaders are taking a cue from commercial manufacturers, such as Tesla and Airbus, who use sophisticated virtual copies of their products to test performance before they are built. The adoption of this “digital twin” technology will allow military planners to avoid a multitude of platform manufacturing and integration issues before the “metal is cut.” The practice prevents costly delays and results in faster deliveries of the final product.
No matter which domain they are designed for, military platforms are packed with advanced technologies. They typically require integrated power systems, IT networks, surveillance, command and control, communications, weapons systems, and more. Besides taking up physical space, each of these systems requires power and most require network bandwidth, so it is essential to understand how the introduction of new capabilities will impact overall operations. As the complexity of a given platform increases, so does the risk of failures related to the challenge of integrating a multitude of systems built for different purposes by disparate manufacturers.
A good digital twin includes the overall design of the platform, as well as designs of each of its systems and subsystems. Where practical, it includes data from manufacturing processes and from actual performance in the field, including wear and tear on parts and known technical issues. This information is then used to develop multi-physics simulations of all the platform’s systems and their interactions. The data allows performance testing under varying conditions and helps predict integration, inter-operability, maintenance, and retrofitting issues well before manufacturing and integration begin.
Adopting digital twin technology means taking a holistic approach to the processes of requirements development, design, production, training, and lifecycle management. It requires a change of culture, with much more frequent communication among all the parties involved. However, the time and effort expended in planning is a fraction of what it would take to fix problems once parts and systems have been delivered.
CACI can assist customers in developing a digital twin framework that brings together disparate engineering disciplines, whether for integrating new systems or retrofitting legacy systems with new capabilities.
The technology can be used for many challenges, including:
For more information about how digital twin modeling can ensure system-of-systems interoperability, or for assistance with developing a pilot program, contact:
Dr. Zareh Soghomonian, email@example.com or
CDR Angel Salinas, USN (Retired), firstname.lastname@example.org