By Sharon Watkins Lang (SMDC/ARSTRAT Command Historian)June 7, 2018
In December 1988, as the leaders reviewed the accomplishments of the year, Brig. Gen. Robert Stewart, deputy commander U.S. Army Strategic Defense Command, observed in an interview with The Huntsville Times that the Experimental Version 1988, or EV-88, was probably the most significant accomplishment for that year.
"EV-88 was the biggest because for so many years now people have been saying we couldn't build computer programs of the size we needed," Stewart said. "If we had used conventional methods, they were probably right. So rather than use conventional techniques, we used unconventional techniques. This shows we have a tool to develop the software we needed."
EV-88 was a series of experiments conducted at the Advanced Research Center located in Huntsville, Alabama, by the Systems Analysis Division of the command's Systems Analysis/Battle Management Directorate. The first in this series began June 7, 1988, and ran through June 24.
The EV-88 experiments "provided the first full-scale, real-time simulations of several kinds of strategic ballistic missile attacks on the United States … [and] of the sensors and weapons of the (Strategic Defense System) defending against an attack."
During this initial phase of experimentation, there were three primary objectives. The first was to visibly demonstrate and validate a Battle Management Command Control and Communications capability for strategic defense. The second goal was to "maintain a capacity to analyze, refine and map BMC3 performance for evolving system concepts and alternative architectures." The final goal was to support the development of system concepts with both analytical and developmental results.
With the assistance of eight volunteers who served as commanders and console operators (e.g. to monitor world political situations, weapons status and the targets), the EV-88 experiments focused initially upon battle management data consistency as well as battle management weapon interaction and algorithm sensitivities.
The scenarios in the test program ranged from a terroris-launched missile to an all-out preemptive strike by the Soviet Union. During each scenario, the crew received three different attack scenarios which required the commander and his staff "to confront … the high volume of data and short decision timelines that would be imposed by even a small strategic ballistic missile attack."
The simulated defense timelines meanwhile, in keeping with the proposed strategic defense architecture, included two types of ground-based missiles, a ground-based radar, a pop-up sensor launched by a missile, and space-based sensors and missiles.
The unconventional technique involved writing the necessary computer program(s) and using another computer to check out the system. In the first-level experiments, this assessment involved 500,000 lines of computer code. The data garnered from this experiment was subsequently applied to Level 1 efforts conducted in early fiscal year 1989.
The phase two experiments addressed nearly 900,000 lines of code. The final phase of these experiments, planned for 1989, meanwhile involved another million lines of computer code.
At the same time, three contractor teams headed by TRW, GRC and Colsa worked to integrate experimental software into the computer system at the ARC. Due to some technical difficulties it was necessary to cut back on some of the initial design concepts for this portion of the experiment. Nevertheless, EV-88 Level 0 demonstrated the feasibility of placing a Strategic Defense Battle Management System under human control. As Stewart stated "EV-88 has proved the computer software can be built and that humans can play an active part in control of the system."