Has the Pentagon’s investment in M&S backfired?

In the beginning, there was just the Boeing Integration Center (BIC). And then there was the Lockheed Martin Center for Innovation Lighthouse. That was followed by the Northrop Grumman Cyber Warfare Integration Network (CWIN), and so on and so on.

What are these things? And, more to the point, what value do they provide?

I can answer the first question fairly simply: Proprietary modeling, simulation and analysis networks created during the last decade by each of the major defense contractors.

The question of their value is more interesting to me. Here’s an excerpt from an article I wrote in Flight International in 2004:

[The Pentagon's] ultimate goal is to connect the BIC with simulationnetworks owned by other companies, such as Northrop Grumman’s Cyber-WarfareIntegration Network. “We all have that same goal,” says NorthropGrumman.

After all, the customers’ money would be wasted if each corporate modeling network was unable to use a competitors’ products. The Armed Forces Journal put it this way in a 2005 article:

“In the stampede to build M&S labs and explore the futurethrough modeling, there lurks a danger that the future systems that emerge fromthis technology’s crystal gazing could end up being interoperable only withthose other systems developed out of the same labs. In other words, each labwith its own modeling tools and languages would spawn the proprietary,stove-piped systems that the armed forces are insisting are no longer acceptable.”

Indeed, only a month ago I attended a presentation at Lockheed’s grandiose Lighthouse facility in Suffolk, Va. Lockheed’s engineers presented a simulation of a combat search and rescue mission. All of the aircraft involved in the simulation were made by, of course, Lockheed. All of them, that is, except for one: the one aircraft in the entire simulation that was shot down!

So has the dream of an interoperable, interconnected network of corporately-owned modeling and simulation labs been lost, despite the taxpayer’s indirect investment in them through higher corporate overhead charges?

I’ll have the chance to investigate that today when I visit Boeing’s advanced modeling, simulation and evaluation division’s headquarters in Los Angeles. I’ll let you know what I find out.


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4 Responses to Has the Pentagon’s investment in M&S backfired?

  1. Matt 13 August, 2008 at 5:52 pm #

    I suppose the issue would be modelling competitor’s products without gaining proprietary knowledge of said products. The AF in this example could provide data on existing AF hardware, but to simulate Boeing’s CSAR-X offering at the LM facility may be an unreasonable expectation, unless the people who worked in the facility were barred from interaction with other parts of the company (which would be unlikely as they probably work with LM’S CSAR-X team).

  2. Royce 13 August, 2008 at 6:22 pm #

    Having major defense contractors build the models used to evaluate their products strikes me as useful as have lawyers be the judges in their own cases. I admit to be unfamiliar with this issue. Is it impossible to fund some kind of separate government modeling lab?

  3. brutally frank 6 January, 2009 at 4:53 pm #

    These are WPA programs. Welfare programs on steroids for those in the U.S. who have post-high school education. The federal government grossly over-invested in defense related technology and technology in general. Now our economy is lop-sided and in the toilet. The problem dates back to Reagan, when he and those after him convinced the general populaton that the federal civil servant work force was full of lazy, good-for nothings that were over-paid, underworked, under-utilized, and unnecessary. Then Regan and those after him started to replace those workers with a contractor work force that cost the federal government 2-3 times more than what was already in place — and destroyed 50 or more years of “corporate knowledge”. Now instead of a defense industry that was more competitive and created and developed their own innovative technologies, the mantra is “COTS” — commercial-off-the-shelf. But who is developing these “COTS” products? (And most certainly not using their own “internal” R&D funding (IRAD)) .

  4. Jersey City General Contractors 21 July, 2010 at 1:15 pm #

    Wonderful to read!

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