REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (Aug. 23, 2021) – When one thinks of S&T – science and technology – they usually think of developing new capabilities to be employed in the future.
But for the U.S. Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center’s Software, Simulation, Systems Engineering and Integration Directorate, much of the science they are working on has real-world consequences, right now.
S3I provides the Army with collaborative and innovative life cycle systems engineering, software engineering, modeling and simulation, systems development, prototyping, and technical systems management products and solutions.
“We handle the life cycle of software development for Army aviation and missile systems,” Dr. James Kirsch, S3I director, said. “In addition, we also have all of the modeling and simulation and hardware-in-the-loop capability, which provides us the software in an all-digital environment and running on actual tactical hardware.”
Hardware-in-the-loop is laboratory-based testing that uses the actual system hardware to evaluate its performance. Typically, a computer simulates input to the tested system in order to evaluate its behavior.
“We are doing the software that is going into many of the systems today, such as the Multiple Launch Rocket System and the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System – we also provide any new capability that they are flowing out from a missile perspective, whether it is an air defense missile or long-range fires, or whatever the purpose. We also do all of the modeling and simulation that fleshes it out before it actually goes to the field,” Kirsch said.
Part of what makes this so essential to the Army’s modernization priorities is that simulation testing can be both cost-efficient and time-saving, both critical missions of DEVCOM AvMC’ s higher headquarters, Army Futures Command.
Collaboration is a key component of S3I’s mission and the directorate is integrated across the Army enterprise, providing a large part of the AvMC workforce matrixed to partners such as PEO Aviation, PEO Missiles & Space, Missile Defense Agency and the Rapid Capabilities & Critical Technologies Office, to name a few.
S3I is also home to AvMC’s Prototype Integration Facility - the premier provider of rapid response and integrated hardware solutions. The PIF was established to design, fabricate and integrate hardware to meet the most compelling and urgent needs of the federal government and its allies. It has multiple facilities with computer numerical control machining, cable and wire harness fabrication, a composite shop and additive manufacturing.
“Since its establishment in 2002, the Prototype Integration Facility has provided a ‘one stop shop’ rapid response solutions for the Army and the DOD to assist in this challenge,” said Stan Sherrod, principal deputy for S3I. “The PIF concept builds off the foundation of the existing base of government prototyping experiences, but integrates unique business principles to form a creative, powerful concept to assist DoD customers in their quest to rapidly provide hardware to the warfighter.
“The PIF has successfully exceeded expectations for getting the job done, on time, and with significant cost savings. The PIF has a proven track record of building the right team for the task and delivering hardware and integrated solutions to the warfighter to meet their mission needs.”
Beyond just creating technology and solving problems, S3I has also been tasked with ensuring that their technology cannot be exploited or copied by U.S. adversaries - this is where its Protective Technologies office plays an integral part.
“We send our systems all over the world – how do we protect it if it were to fall into the wrong hands?” Kirsch said. “How do we make sure they cannot get information out of our systems or compromise them? From a manufacturing standpoint since most of our electronics are purchased from overseas vendors, how do we ensure they do not have some sort of malware?”
At the end of the day, S3I is the authority over new software that goes into the hands of Soldiers.
“What we do here is provide government expertise to the Army that they can’t get anywhere else,” Kirsch said. “Because of that, we have a responsibility to ensure the technology does what it is supposed to do, when it is supposed to do it - each and every time.”
The DEVCOM Aviation & Missile Center, headquartered at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, is the Army’s research and development focal point for advanced technology in aviation and missile systems. It is part of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM), a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command. AvMC is responsible for delivering collaborative and innovative aviation and missile capabilities for responsive and cost-effective research, development and life cycle engineering solutions, as required by the Army’s strategic priorities and support to its Cross-Functional Teams.