MODESTA: The Evolution of System Integration

As Army tactical networks become more complex, there’s an increased need to perform system-of-systems (SoS) engineering early in the development and integration process. New technologies don’t always work seamlessly with the fielded equipment – which makes system integration and improvement a challenge. That’s why the tools used to analyze these tactical networks must also evolve.

(Graphic illustration provided by CERDEC/Released)

(Graphic illustration provided by CERDEC/Released)

Conducting SoS analysis upfront will enable stakeholders to find potential issues and implement solutions before large investments have been made. Leveraging a modeling and simulation (M&S) environment provides the most cost-effective means to do this large scale and beyond the component level.

However, many existing M&S capabilities can’t answer today’s complex network questions, such as detailed routing and latency analysis.

Moreover, the current M&S landscape is disjointed and stove piped. We need to take a conscious look, as an Army, at the cost in terms of reigning in spending and upfront coordination of capabilities across the community. It is imperative that the Acquisition and Science and Technology (S&T) communities work towards a defined end state for M&S capabilities.

To this point, we’re developing a holistic tactical modeling, simulation and emulation tool that will not only allow early SoS engineering, but will also streamline M&S across the Acquisition and S&T communities.

This will reduce redundant analysis and duplicate spending by project managers and provide significant, long-term cost savings to the Army.

The Modeling, Emulation, Simulation Tool for Analysis (MODESTA) provides a large-scale, tactical network analysis environment with a centralized framework so analysts can conduct realistic, operational scenarios with emulated and simulated systems – all while accessing centralized data models and data collection, reduction and analysis tools.

 Engineers demonstrate live hardware, a radio in this case, being emulated and tested in a lab setting while the adjoining image shows a drawing of the radio used in the field. (Graphic illustration provided by CERDEC/Released)

Engineers demonstrate live hardware, a radio in this case, being emulated and tested in a lab setting while the adjoining image shows a drawing of the radio used in the field. (Graphic illustration provided by CERDEC/Released)

MODESTA enables the utilization of live and emulated hardware (such as tactical radios or routers), which provides the user a virtual environment in which to interact with live hardware, thus providing true performance characteristics at scale while running real applications – such  as Mission Command and Fires applications.

MODESTA’s framework enables seamless interaction between live hardware and emulated systems; this allows for increased scalability with few limitations, providing a good picture of how the technology is going to interact in the full system-of-systems network/environment before the tech provider gets too far along in development.  Furthermore, you’re not pulling radios, unmanned aerial systems, or vehicles out of the field to use as training/laboratory assets.

There are several simulation/emulation environments and a variety of models being utilized by different organizations, but these are not accessible to the greater M&S community.

The MODESTA configuration management databases will compile these high fidelity models along with any past analysis associated with the models – such as what was done, by whom, in what scenario, with what traffic, yielding what results.

It will also allow analysts to replicate those scenarios while adding their own logistical and environmental variables with a few clicks of the mouse, so you don’t have to duplicate the effort of setting up your scenario every time you want to move to a new environment. This will reduce duplicative analysis while helping shape and advance future testing.

The MODESTA framework will also enable the S&T and Acquisition communities to perform cross-Program Executive Office analysis: threats, intelligence systems, Distributed Common Ground System-Army, and sensor feeds can be evaluated in conjunction with the tactical communications network.

(Graphic illustration provided by CERDEC/Released)

(Graphic illustration provided by CERDEC/Released)

Additionally, MODESTA’s modular framework will provide most of the communications infrastructure and the data collection and reduction so users can evaluate multiple types of systems – ranging from Mission Command applications to cyber defensive/offensive systems to sensors – on a scalable network.

Working under the MODESTA framework will create cost efficiencies in licensing, waveform development, server costs and maintenance, and the man hours needed to set up varying analyses.  The end state could reduce spending by as much as 80 percent.

We’re applying it to our R&D work to see how it’s going to interact with the existing PM systems; this will aid in the technology transition of CERDEC tech-base work while allowing for technology progression from Technical Readiness Level 3-6 with a focus on SoS integration.

We’re also partnered with PEO C3T to build a brigade-scale, high-fidelity M&S environment where we’ll be replicating a future capability set for the Army, using high-fidelity emulation of a brigade and live hardware from the CERDEC C4ISR Systems Integration Lab (CSIL). We will have the initial capability by Jan 2015. One year after that, we hope to scale up to a division – and potentially an Army Corps.

CERDEC S&TCD has a long history of creating tactical communications models, conducting simulation and emulation analysis, and performing tactical data collection/reduction for analysis – from individual PMs to our lab-based and field-based risk reduction support of NIEs.  As a result, we know what data, tools and processes are useful for evaluating these systems.

That’s why we’re leading the charge toward an open, modular, high-fidelity M&S tool that will allow stakeholders to make the best decisions as to which new technologies get fielded and how they get fielded.

We see the potential of this as a cross-PEO tool, but we’d like to see this M&S environment be accessible across the Army S&T community to all the PMs. It will be easier for the Army to achieve a unified vision for our tactical networks if we’re all on the same page using the same analysis results to make decisions that will support our soldiers.

Written by:

Joshua Fischer, chief of the Data Collection, Analysis, Modeling and Simulation (DCAMS) branch in the CERDEC S&TCD Systems Engineering, Architecture, Modeling and Simulation (SEAMS) Division

Noah Weston, Modeling and Simulation Team Leader (acting) for CERDEC S&TCD Systems Engineering, Architecture, Modeling and Simulation (SEAMS) Division

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