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United Kingdom, Summer 1997 – The BAE SYSTEMS Battlespace Digitization Demonstrator (BDD) is a facility for assessing the impact of Digitization on the command and control process from a system of systems standpoint. The Demonstrator concept focuses on an information system to support Battlegroup operations and places commanders at all levels (from vehicle commanders to the Battlegroup Commander) in a representative Synthetic Environment. The BDD can be used to evaluate conceptual solutions, to perform capability analysis and risk reduction studies, and to study human factors issues in a Digitized system of systems Battlefield environment.

In a recent Situational Awareness experiment, the BDD was configured as a Battlegroup Headquarters in which a commander had control of a number of remotely connected simulated recce vehicle and uninhabited air vehicle (UAV) assets. The purpose of this experiment was to ascertain the effect of digitized communications on the workload and situational awareness of commanders in a simulated Battlegroup reconnaissance mission.

Overall Description

The Synthetic Environment comprises a number of real-time distributed simulations. The operation of a Battlegroup and an opposing force are simulated in an entity (platform) level battle model. Movement of platforms can be scripted or placed under human-in-the-loop control. Own position reporting and enemy contact data, generated in the battle model, are passed to an information processing model of each platform (termed a Platform Model) within the Battlegroup. The Platform Models process and store this data and can distribute it as messages to other platforms. The inter-platform communications delays are determined by a simulation of the Battlegroup tactical VHF radio nets. The delays are derived as a function of the operational scenario and reflect the instantaneous loading on the communications network and the nature of the terrain between transmitters and receivers. Any Platform Model can be configured as a hosted Commanders Workstation by interfacing with a Human Computer Interface (HCI). Facilities provided by the HCI are the display of geo-spatial situational data on a map and the entry of reports and returns, e.g. sighting reports. The HCI enables the BDD to be used to support rapid prototyping of screen layouts and the derivation of commander’s information needs within an operational context.

BDD Subsystems

The BDD comprises five major subsystems:

  1. A Scenario Model – controls the movement of platforms on the battlefield and simulates the sensors and weapon systems deployed by the digitized force. The Scenario Model is developed using the FLAMES® modelling environment. Typically, up to 450 platforms including main battle tanks, armoured personnel carriers, soft skin vehicles, dismounted troops, fixed and rotary winged aircraft are modelled. On-board sensor models include human observers, thermal imagers, surveillance radars, laser range finders, navigation sensors (GPS), and fuel gauges.
  2. A Scenario Viewer – displays a high fidelity textured 3D picture of any part of the scenario. The eye point of the viewer can be located anywhere in three-dimensional space including an Out the Window (OTW) view from a platform.
  3. Commander’s Workstations – emulates the functionality predicted for the information systems on board future digitized platforms. The Commander’s Workstation comprises both the HCI software and the associated Platform Model. The HCI software is developed using MapObjects™ and provides basic map manipulation functions (e.g. pan and zoom), the ability to overlay and query the tactical picture, and facilities to enter formatted and free text messages.
  4. Platform Models – simulate the track, status and message handling processes of each digitized platform in the Battlegroup in response to inputs from sensors (output from the Scenario Model), messages received from other Platform Models or human input via the Commander’s Workstation HCI. Platform Models not connected to a Commander’s Workstation produce messages at a frequency defined by a set of rules entered as an experimental condition. The size of each message (in bits) reflects the data content of the message and the data compression technique under investigation (if any).
  5. Communications Model – simulates the communications delays experienced by messages sent across a tactical digital radio net. The Communications Model is developed using OPNET™ adapted to run in real time. It provides a detailed simulation of the routing and scheduling protocols of future digital radio communications system and models the effects of propagation loss over terrain, degradation due to range and interference, and the physical destruction or failure of routing nodes.

The BDD subsystems are distributed across a heterogeneous computing environment (UNIX and Windows NT platforms) and are integrated using an implementation of the Object Management Group’s (OMG) Common Object Request Broker Architecture (CORBA) specification. Integration with external simulations is achieved using the Distributed Interactive Simulation (DIS) standard (IEEE 1278).

For further information on the BAE SYSTEMS BDD Rig contact:

Dr. C.J. Samwell
Future Systems
Grange Road
BH23 4JE
United Kingdom

Tel: 01202 408787
Fax: 01202 404732