As the name suggests, modeling and simulation (M&S) uses models to analyze large amounts of data to help make decisions. We use simulations to represent how things might look and feel. M&S isn't new technology, we've been using it to analyze information and make decisions for well over 20 years. What is new, however, is how we are using it. We've taken our programs virtual, which saves time, money, and resources, and we've added a key piece: the operational aspect of how the system works.
We use operational M&S to show our customers the art of the possible. Not only can we use this virtual environment to simulate how a certain technology looks and performs on a vehicle, but we can also use it to demonstrate the purpose it will serve in battle. Even though a certain technology might sound appealing, it's not always obvious what purpose it will serve and if it will fit the needs of the mission. That's where the operational piece of M&S comes to play.
Think of it this way: it might be neat to have a refrigerator in your car, but you likely don't need one. By using operational M&S, we can show the customer that not only is a refrigerator not a practical decision for a vehicle, it isn't operationally viable. The best part? We can do this without spending tons of money on physical models or expensive tests.
For example, we recently used our operational M&S capabilities on the M88 heavy-recovery platform. We created a M88 visualization tool that provided a detailed look at how BAE Systems planned to execute upgrades to the M88 platform. The basis of actual engineering models and vehicle-level simulations also provided a look into the future operational advantages of the proposed vehicle. Our team's ability to translate highly technical engineering data into short vehicle-level simulations allowed us to quickly convey concepts and advantages in areas where words would fall short. Our operational M&S efforts resulted in the ability for BAE Systems to build a prototype vehicle demonstrator that eliminated two years from the standard government procurement cycle.
There are many benefits to operational M&S. Operational M&S can be a cheaper and safer way of analyzing a system or process. It helps us to find problems before they occur, and we can test to ensure something works before we build it. We're also exploring how virtual reality - used in conjunction with operational M&S - can streamline our manufacturing and design process. We've already built virtual reality labs at our Fridley, Minnesota; Sterling Heights, Michigan; and York, Pennsylvania facilities and we are looking at plans to expand to our San Jose, California, site as well.
Operational M&S shows our customer the art of the possible. It's helping our company remain a future-driven technology company, and we're just scratching the surface. As our technology for operational M&S keeps getting better and better, we'll continue to produce cutting edge designs that feature the latest operationally viable technology.