Engineers at the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center (AMRDEC) are working on a trio of technologies to explore improving existing air and missile defense designs at lower costs and in less development time. Each of the technologies was developed out of a demand from the warfighter. Investment in current missile weapons is high so the Army prefers to improve what is in use instead of fielding new items. Also, soldiers have more trust in machinery they have used and experienced.
The first technology to be developed was Missile Intelligence over Networks: Dynamic, Distributed and Synchronized. MINDDS technology allows for better battle management and fire control to defeat modern threats. MINDDS integrates real time dynamic models that simulate potential engagements when using distributed air and missile defense weapons and sensors components. MINDDS has machine learning algorithms that can accurately forecast how these components would perform in different battle spaces. It also has an open architecture of distributed software services so integration of new technologies is easily implemented.
"We have had really good success building the MINDDS architecture as a collection of distributed services," said Keith Godwin, senior systems engineer. "We have developed a new approach for fire distributed control. When the enemy shoots, we know how to calculate the best response."
Distributed, Adaptable and Reconfigurable Weapon Interfaces to Interactive Networks (DARWIIN) was the second technology to be developed. DARWIIN is an open source, model driven software engineering technology that reduces cost, complexity and technical risk when developing system interfaces. DARWIIN technologies transform an interface model into interface source code resulting in consistent, compatible, and complete system interfaces. Transformation can be accomplished with no loss of essential information and no requirement for dispersed engineering teams to interpret intent using only a paper specification.
The goal was to create a tool that could rapidly generate interfaces for new systems and shorten time from design concept to implementation of how data is exchanged. "We need to know how the system should come together not just how to exchange the info," said Tony Rainoldi, lead engineer.
The last technology in the series is the proposed Core Reference Algorithms Dynamically Linked for Experimentation. CRADLE builds upon lessons learned with DARWIIN and is an open source algorithm connection model that includes management tools. Its open architecture software engineering technologies will expedite the prototyping of complex software designs.
CRADLE creates a behavior prototyping tool where engineers can explore new concepts quickly. "It acts as a sandbox where you can play around with behavior," said Sam Curtis, aerospace engineer. As you change the information available the decision making changes. "If you use this then you won't be surprised later by things that don't work together," said Godwin. "So you can use the time available early in a program to solve integration problems."
The cost for the enemy to build weapons is lowering and they are also building more sophisticated technology to counter existing Army weapons. "The threat is getting harder and we know we need more flexibility in our weapons," said Rainoldi. "We have to evolve our systems to match the threat."