Services agree on a proposal for modeling architecture

JMASS
is a tool
box that lets you build simulations.





The Army, Navy and Air Force last month approved an operational requirements document
that could result in a common simulation and modeling architecture.


The document outlines the elements needed for the Joint Modeling and Simulation System
and provides a framework for analyzing the engineering, design, testing and evaluation of
weapons systems the Defense Department wants to buy.


“JMASS is analogous to a set of computer-aided software engineering tools for
modeling and simulation,” said Cindy Porubcansky, JMASS program manager. “It is
essentially a tool box that allows you to build simulations.”


JMASS places models of weapons such as those on aircraft, tanks and ships into a
virtual environment so that military officials can see them perform before buying the real
thing. There are two JMASS systems: the baseline system developed by the Air Force and the
emerging joint system that will use the service’s existing program.


“The major dividend of JMASS will be a common software environment in which
government and contractors alike can develop and execute interoperable and reusable model
components reducing the cost and time to acquire DOD systems,” a June 4 draft said.


The draft went on to describe current modeling systems as being computer-dependent and
unable to work together, thus prohibiting model sharing among designers with disparate
hardware.


“Current modeling systems are computer-dependent and do not provide the necessary
technical foundation to allow simulation developers to share models among laboratories
with dissimilar hardware suites,” the draft said.


To make model sharing possible, JMASS will use an open-systems approach and a common
object-oriented language that includes graphical user interfaces and other applications,
the report said. The applications are based on commercial standards such as Microsoft
Windows, X Window, Motif and OpenGL. JMASS will run on a variety ofhardware and support
disparate operating systems, the draft said.


The system is required to support Unix platforms such as those from Sun Microsystems
Inc., Silicon Graphics Inc., Microsoft Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co. and Digital Equipment
Corp. Porubcansky said, “Those will be the systems that we will be standardizing and
building on for a transportable version of JMASS.’


The Office of the Secretary of Defense sponsored a pilot program earlier this year to
port JMASS to a PC running Windows NT. The JMASS PC prototype included 20 beta sites that
let programmers further refine the joint system requirements.


“As the performance of PCs approaches the performance of Sun and Silicon Graphics
workstations, the investment required by program offices to build a version of JMASS that
works on a PC is certainly a lot less than buying a $50,000 or $60,000 workstation,”
Porubcansky said.


The latest JMASS software is Version 3.2.


“JMASS 3.2 is an existing simulation system that meets a portion of the
capabilities defined in this document but falls short in important areas,” the draft
said. For example, JMASS 3.2 is not fully compliant with existing commercial and DOD
standards, the document said.


The draft requires that JMASS comply with the new High Level Architecture. HLA is the
technical blueprint for all military simulation systems and is designed to provide a
DOD-wide common technical framework that ensures interoperability.


The document names HLA as the standard through which JMASS simulations will communicate
with other simulations, but JMASS 3.2 is not HLA-compliant.


“Version 3.2 had no requirement to be compliant with HLA at the time we built
it,” Porubcansky said. “HLA compliance is a requirement for the joint program.
The Air Force is doing some risk reduction efforts to get ready for the joint program, and
we’ll be doing some experiments to integrate the prototype with HLA.”


Once the draft is approved, the services will run a full-and-open competition for a
36-month JMASS development contract, which will be awarded in late 1999. Responses to a
program R&D announcement were due in July. A request for proposals for the joint
system will be released in early 1999.


“The significance of this operational requirements document is that the services
have a true operational requirement,” said Klaus Dannenberg, senior vice president
and manager of the modeling and simulation integration division at CACI Inc. of Fairfax,
Va. “This is a joint ORD so it’s a joint requirement, whereas before the program
was focused more on a specific service, primarily Air Force requirements.”


The Air Force will create a JMASS Joint Program Office at Wright-Patterson Air Force
Base, Ohio, in October.


CACI is subcontractor to Boeing Co., the prime contractor for the JMASS program. But
CACI is also the prime contractor for the Joint Warfare System (JWARS).


JMASS differs from Defense’s other modeling and simulation systems. The Joint
Simulation System provides a common architecture for battle staff training that includes
Army, Navy and Air Force models. JWARS simulates air, land and sea forces across different
military campaigns.


“JMASS is more technical and has a higher level of fidelity and detail than the
other two,” Dannenberg said.


JMASS’ initial operating capability will be based on whether it can execute a long
list of representative scenarios and correlation matrix requirements. The draft did not
specify when JMASS will be operational.  

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