U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers on training exercise (US Army)

COMMENTARY

How sensors are igniting a new era for defense testing and simulation

The rapid advancements of sensor technology and open-source architectures are giving today’s defense organizations new opportunities for testing and simulation that are much broader and more realistic than ever before. The arrival of these innovations is timely, and needed, to address the increasingly adverse environments in theater. And today, in theater can mean nearly anywhere at any time, depending on the type and scope of asymmetrical threats.

New technologies have opened pathways for agencies to have more agile, flexible and cost-effective options to ensure mission security and success. Auxiliary sensors are in development now on a broad scale and being tested for deployment.

The Department of Defense has already taken clear steps to advance the evaluation and use of sensors as part of new systems. Therefore, testing and simulation systems must evolve in tandem in order to effectively support them. The Army Open Innovation Lab, for example, was established for industry to demonstrate capabilities and integrate their new products and services with the Army’s open architecture standards.

DOD is collaborating with industry partners to provide new sensors, applications and implementation methods that will become the new standards upon which the next generation of systems will rely. Meanwhile, the build and test era has begun. As government and industry move forward, there are several key areas of functionality that the next generation of testing and simulation will need to address:

  • Multi-sensor systems. With the rapid development and deployment of new sensor technology on ground-, land-, and air-based vehicles and equipment, effectively testing, simulating and evaluating how sensors will operate in real environments is critical.
  • Modularity. Modular testing and simulation resources provide a nimble and flexible plug and play implementation will reduce test and validation times allowing for game-changing technology to be fielded quicker.
  • Open systems. Open architecture and open-source approaches bring greater flexibility, speed and cost effectiveness, while simultaneously creating new areas that testing and simulation systems will need to consider to maintain effective replication of real-world environments and accuracy of results.
  • Cybersecurity. DOD devices and systems already follow the Defense Information Systems Agency’s Risk Management Framework Security Technical Implementation Guide. Having test systems that also meet DOD cybersecurity requirements reduces operational downtime and implementation costs.

As future systems containing multi-sensor components, plug-in functionality and open-source resources advance, new simulation and testing approaches must accommodate these new characteristics.

Ideally government and industry can closely collaborate to provide innovative simulation and testing solutions that match the latest innovations. These systems must be interoperable, secured against a variety of threats and accomplish the mission uninterrupted.

To do so quickly and cost effectively, it will be imperative that new sensor systems follow a new common testing and simulation standard. An agnostic testing approach will eliminate the time and budget challenges that can come with one-off testing scenarios. Government and industry should come together to create standards so that new sensors, using open architecture and modular, secure systems, can be built to ensure national security mission success.

About the Author

Tyler Hohman is director of products with Orolia Defense & Security.

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