Aerospace & defenseJanuary 18, 2024

From legacy to leading edge: modernizing national defense systems

Amid global geopolitical unrest, the need for nations to modernize their defense systems has become increasingly critical.
Avatar Philippe Besse

Amid global geopolitical unrest, the need for nations to modernize their defense systems has become increasingly critical. State-of-the-art technologies can help governments stay one step ahead.

Global geopolitical unrest presents a challenging operating environment for today’s national defense departments. “We need to expect the unexpected…be prepared…and continue to adapt,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in a keynote address at the Global Security Bratislava Forum in Slovakia in October 2020.It’s no wonder Stoltenberg feels this way. State-sponsored actors, terrorist organizations and cyber attackers all use advanced technologies and tactics that circumvent traditional defense mechanisms.

Defense departments now have different requirements, because the increasing use of unmanned systems, autonomous weapons and artificial intelligence (AI) is changing the nature of warfare, bringing new layers of complexity. To be able to support government’s evolving needs, organizations that provide defense solutions need to invest in new, innovative technologies, and also have the ability to seamlessly collaborate across functions, organizations and geographies to keep their programs on track. They also need to work as efficiently and productively as possible by ensuring personnel aren’t bogged down by manual tasks and by optimizing logistics and supply chains.

The need for next-generation platforms that offer more capability is clear. At the Global Security Bratislava Forum, Stoltenberg urged members to “focus our investments even more on new, cutting-edge capabilities,” and also “ensure that allies coordinate as they develop new technologies.

A Careful Balancing Act

The answer is not to simply rip and replace solutions. There’s also a need to ensure older, but still vital, defense assets remain in service.The good news is that defense budgets are growing at their fastest pace in 15 years, with global military spending forecast to rise by 8.6% in 2023. This, along with technology breakthroughs such as hypersonics and autonomous systems, means that countries around the globe can better develop more capable, sustainable and flexible solutions to mitigate evolving threats – while ensuring they get the best out of existing assets.

What’s more, companies like Dassault Systèmes are delivering platforms that can address the many challenges that defense organizations face – all while increasing legacy defense systems’ mission readiness.

Rising to the Challenge

Via Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform, defense departments can improve asset reliability, reduce mean time to recovery and improve supply chain availability – for example, by improving the availability of spare parts.

The platform also provides a modular and integrated approach to systems support that can help nations to reduce costs and improve performance by allowing for the reuse of common components across multiple systems. It’s a platform that is being used across 11 industries – including defense –as a foundation for digital transformation. It offers a fully integrated data and model-based environment for every phase of a complex engineering program, providing digital continuity for all data and knowledge – an authoritative source of truth – across a digital enterprise.

A Modern Way to Tackle Modern Threats

By facilitating model-based systems engineering (MBSE) – a systems-thinking methodology that delivers significant advantage over traditional document-based systems engineering approaches – the 3DEXPERIENCE platform enables defense leaders to create and manage complex systems more efficiently, reducing the risk of errors and improving the quality of the end product. By leveraging the power of MBSE, defense organizations like the United States Department of Defense have been able to reduce costs, improve safety and accelerate product development cycles.

However, knowing where to start can be a challenge. “Knowing where your business is heading from a transformational point of view is a good entry point,” said Mellissa Cordova, Senior Consultant for the Aerospace and Defense Business at Dassault Systèmes, in a live panel discussion which was part of Dassault Systèmes’ Aerospace and Defense MBSE Webinar series. “But for a transformational opportunity that encompasses MBSE, aligning to the driving factors both externally and internally of why your business is trying to transform to a MBSE environment is essential, and then aligning those to the objectives of why your company is changing and what your company from an initiative basis is important too. So, when you understand those top needs within your organization, aligning the priorities of activities that are going to fulfil those needs are essentially what gives you the answer of where to start adopting.”

The Power of the Virtual

The 3DEXPERIENCE platform also connects the virtual world of engineering and the real world of operating and maintaining defense assets through a digital twin – a virtual replica of physical systems and equipment, which can be used to monitor and optimize performance in real-time.

The virtual-twin approach to improving mission readiness is smart sustainment or support, and may be the most cost-efficient way for any country to maintain their major defense systems so they can improve and achieve the highest mission capability for both older assets and newer defense systems long term,” said John Doud, Chief Executive Officer of Dassault Systèmes Government Solutions in a recent whitepaper.

By leveraging virtual twins, defense departments can improve maintenance and repair processes, reduce downtime and increase their operational efficiency.

Each defense system will have its own unique virtual twin that will serve as a living, breathing medical record,” said Jeff Smith, Senior Director of the Aerospace and Defense team at Dassault Systèmes, in the whitepaper. “People who service them will be able to use predictive analytics to devise appropriate maintenance schedules and processes to optimize mission-readiness – including determining when a specific part should be replaced, based on the mission profile and flight hours.

Advanced simulation and modeling tools, meanwhile, leverage the virtual twins of both equipment and systems, enabling defense engineers to test their performance quickly and cost-effectively under various conditions. This allows the system or product to be validated with minimal physical testing, ensuring designs are optimized before going into production.

All this can be achieved in a way that optimizes existing solutions. “Not only can we coexist with other resources, but the 3DEXPERIENCE platform can work with other [software] assets that the DoD or any other defense organization currently uses, and in so doing make the whole system better,John Doud, Chief Executive Officer of Dassault Systèmes Government Solutions, explained.

By using solutions such as the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, defense organizations can modernize their operations while maintaining their important legacy assets and – as a result – better equip themselves to meet the dynamic and evolving threats of the 21st century.

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Want to learn more ? Check out our Aerospace & Defense industry page.

Come meet us at the World Defense Show from February 4th to 8th, 2024, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Our experts will be there to engage, demonstrate, and share with you.

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