Defense and Intelligence

AFRL Conducts Research on Digital Twin Technology for Digital Engineering

Digital twin

AFRL Conducts Research on Digital Twin Technology for Digital Engineering

The Air Force has launched a research effort to develop digital twin technology to more quickly and cost-effectively fix or upgrade future capabilities. 

Digital twins are digital representations of real-world objects. The technology is commonly used in modern digital engineering, a development method championed by former Air Force acquisition chief Will Roper, Breaking Defense reported.

Roper, a past Potomac Officers Club event speaker and three-time Wash100 awardee, said the Air Force has already adopted digital engineering methods to accelerate its development of a new fighter jet as part of the Next-Generation Air Dominance program. 

Digital engineering was also used in the development of the Air Force's T-7A Red Hawk get fighter trainer and the Ground-Based Strategy Deterrent system. 

Roper said digital engineering would allow the Air Force to retire old systems and aircraft by rapidly developing new weapons and systems in smaller batches. 

The service is now developing digital twin technology as part of its WeaponONE program, which is an effort to transition tools and practices for the digital transformation of future weapons.

The Air Force Research Laboratory said it used the “Digital Twin Lab” to develop its Gray Wolf prototype cruise missile.

“The Digital Twin Lab represents the ultimate expression of digital engineering, acting as a force multiplier, giving us tremendous flexibility and adaptability to our weapons systems,” said Garry Haase, director of the AFRL munitions directorate.

AFRL Program Manager James Sumpter said Gray Wolf fits well into the digital twin framework because it was built with modern interfaces using an open architecture. 

The prototype was also already in the AFRL's portfolio, removing the need for any cross-organization coordination, Sumpter added. 

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Category: Defense and Intelligence

Tags: AFRL Breaking Defense Defense and Intelligence. Air Force digital engineering digital twin Garry Haase James Sumpter Wash100 WeaponONE Will Roper