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Digital engineering transformation coming to Air Force weapons enterprise

A visual representation of a digital twin. A digital twin is a virtual representation of an instance of a physical object that shares data with its physical twin throughout the system lifecycle. (U.S. Air Force illustration/Chris Quinlan and John James)

A visual representation of a digital twin. A digital twin is a virtual representation of an instance of a physical object that shares data with its physical twin throughout the system’s life cycle. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Chris Quinlan and John James)


The Air Force kicked off a pioneering Weapons Digital Enterprise Workshop Dec. 9 at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, to solidify ties with the Air Force and Department of Defense digital enterprises to develop advanced capabilities and enable rapid design of weapons and assessment of their impact on military operations.

The Eglin AFB Modeling and Simulation Consortium is comprised of experts from the Air Force Research Laboratory Munitions Directorate, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center Armament Directorate and the 96th Test Wing.

The consortium members attending the workshop focused on the collaborative autonomous weapons challenge as a forcing function to transform and unify the weapons enterprise. During the weeklong event, key experts elaborated on strategies to implement digital engineering initiatives across the weapons enterprise.

Digital engineering is an integrated approach that uses authoritative sources of system data and models as a continuum across disciplines to support lifecycle activities from concept through disposal. Digital twins are virtual representations of physical objects that share data throughout the system’s lifecycle.

The Modeling and Simulation Consortium has taken on the charge to leverage M&S capabilities across Eglin AFB and integrate them into a shared research, development and test ecosystem. This collaborative effort will define how the Air Force and DoD can use data and models to rapidly develop, analyze and deliver solutions to warfighting forces. These efforts will transform science and technology management, systems engineering cycles and test and evaluation methods.

“Air Force Acquisitions is on the cusp of a revolutionary paradigm shift for development, test and production of our weapons systems,” said Brig. Gen. Anthony Genatempo, Air Force Program Weapons executive officer and director of AFLCMC’s Armament Directorate. “Leadership is supportive, has laid out the vision and handed it over to let us run with it. This workshop is the first concentrated effort by the weapons enterprise to make this vision a reality. I am excited to take the output of these five working groups and start applying them to our efforts moving forward.”

Implementation of digital engineering across the weapons enterprise will grow and accelerate the transition of advanced technologies. Integrated high-fidelity M&S will allow AFRL to rapidly mature science and technology while development engineers exploit authoritative and current models and data to conduct trade studies, insert technologies and integrate systems. These same models and sources of data will allow testers to identify critical validation points and rapidly evaluate them to transition capabilities to the field.

The group debriefed senior leaders from Eglin on the preliminary results of the workshop Dec. 13.

“The ground-breaking work Team Eglin is doing to build a digital engineering capability for weapons across the lab, program office and test community demonstrates outstanding innovative leadership,” said Maj. Gen. William Cooley, AFRL commander.

Michael Hanke, director of AFRL’s Research Collaboration and Computing Directorate and AFRL lead for Enterprise Digital Engineering, added that, “the success of this effort will reap benefits for all AFMC centers, the Air Force and even our joint partners, ultimately helping deliver enhanced war fighting capabilities more rapidly.”

“This was a very productive forum, and I look forward to reviewing the team’s detailed plans and recommendations as we move to transform the future of weapons acquisitions and further integrate our Team Eglin enterprise,” said Col. Garry Haase, director of AFRL’s Munitions Directorate.


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