During this Christmas season I have found a couple of readings very interesting because they have allowed me to think about how Networked Simulation was created, how has evolved and how it could be used in the future. This readings have shown me the past and origin of LVC Simulation (the name of Networked Simulation in the military domain) and a possible future for this technology.
I read first about the origin of LVC simulation: the DARPA's SIMNET program. The origin of LVC simulation for training as it is demanded now, based on high fidelity simulations, very inmersive 3D graphics and connected simulators in a network, was this SIMNET project. SIMNET was a DARPA sponsored and funded project and it is origin and importance for the readiness of the military forces is explained in the book : "The Pentagon's Brain. An uncensored history of DARPA, ..." by Annie Jacobsen. In her book, Ms Jacobsen explained how Capt (later Col) Thorpe, in 1978, got a very radical idea in that time : to link two flight simulators in order to allow a pilot and its wingman to train together in a common virtual world. Based on this first experiment made at Williams Air Force in Arizona, Capt Thorpe proposed the development of a network of flight simulators that would allow for " real time dress rehearsals". This idea was very radical in that time because the Internet's predecessor, ARPANET, was only an small experiment in the late 70s. Capt Thorpe was able to go back to his idea in the early 80s when he was assigned to DARPA as a program manager. In that moment he was aware of the classified work in ARPANET and was able to transform its idea in a new program in 1983 using the new technologies for networking developed at ARPANET; this project was named SIMNET and was focused on the main military priority in the early 80s: how to train and rehearse tanks battles as could be performed on Europe against the soviet armor forces. Now, 30 years later, SIMNET has evolved to LVC simulation and it is demanded worldwide as a a basic tool to keep the operational readiness of the military and security forces. This reading has made me to compare how different has been the evolution of Arpanet and Simnet since they were created as DoD funded programs under the umbrella of DARPA:
"As the exercise [i.e., the Gulf War] got under way the movements of Iraq's real-world ground and air forces eerily paralleled the imaginary scenario of the game"
After this very interesting reading about the origin of LVC simulation, I have read about a "could be" future for LVC Simulation : Blending real and virtual worlds in a seamless way. In Popular Science magazine, you can find an article posted by Kevin Gray (http://www.popsci.com/last-fighter-pilot). Main topic of this article is about the new F35 fighter jet and its unique capabilities but also talks a bit about the sims used to train the pilots of this jet. What is interesting in this article is that it points out to a possible evolution of the simulation to a very radical concept that I think is very promising and exciting for our industry: using virtual simulators to "fly" unmanned fighters actually flying in the theater of operations. LtC Rhett Hierlmeier, head of the F35 simulation center at Luke Air base, envisions a radical new way to deal with the military operations : Live systems deployed in operations and managed from virtual simulators located in a simulation center. Virtual and real worlds would be blended in a seamless way in a augmented reality scenario.
Basically, this article is pushing for a bigger and better integration of the simulations in the Military Network Centric's Systems of Systems, as an integral part of the whole system, useful not only to train but also to rehearse and even to perform the operations.
“I’m hoping we’ll see a day when man is not in the machine, but he is in the loop. We've got to embrace that. I see a day when you're driving into this dome, and you're fighting from right here”
In order to be able to realize this dream we need to evolve the simulations, from the propietary and stovepipe simulators, as usual now, to open, interoperable and real connected devices, that can integrate easily with other live or virtual systems located in the network. This is a very necessary evolution in the concept of how to develop, deploy and use the simulations that we have named the Internet of Simulations. In the same way that internet has transformed the way in which we communicate, exchange and share information with others, or the Internet of Things is promising to transform the way the consumers and industrial devices are employed, the Internet of Simulations must unleash the real value of networked or distributed simulation, enabling many new uses for distributed simulation as the use envisioned by Ltc Hierlmeier or many others as:
I strongly recommend that you read both readings and take your own conclusions. I would appreciate you could also share with all the community your thoughts about these readings and about your vision for the future of Networked Simulation.
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