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A U.S. Navy Landing Craft Air Cushion transporting Marines and vehicles with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit departs the amphibious transport dock ship USS Arlington (LPD 24) Feb. 4. Navy scientists and engineers are developing a modeling and simulation tool that will help determine if Marine Corps vehicles and equipment can be stowed on Navy vessels like the USS Arlington (LPD 24). (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jeraco Jenkins)

Photo by Cpl. Jeraco Jenkins

3D modeling helps Marines move out

23 Mar 2016 | MCSC Office of Public Affairs and Communication Marine Corps Systems Command

(The Office of Public Affairs and Congressional Affairs, NSWC Panama City Division, contributed to this story)

Scientists and engineers from Navy Centers of Innovation used a Marine Corps Systems Command program to develop a tool that helps determine if Marine Corps vehicles and equipment can be stowed on Navy surface vessels.

The tool will save money and time by using 3D scanners, and modeling and simulation software during the logistical and planning phases of operations.

“Transportability of existing or next generation [Marine Corps] vehicles needs to account for all types of sensors that add dimensional volume to a vehicle design,” said Luis E. Velazquez, deputy director of the Modeling and Simulation Division at Marine Corps Systems Command. “These additions can vary from more antennas and communications equipment, to extra armor, or increased tire sizes, etc. The integration of 3D ship scans with 3D models takes into account the best of science and technology, information technology, manufacturing technology, materials science and engineering, modeling and simulation, and test and evaluation capabilities."

The Navy project, called Framework for Assessing Cost and Technology Rapid Technology Insertion, builds on the existing capabilities of MCSC's FACT system.

“The FACT system enables sophisticated trade studies early in the development of Marine Corps vehicle designs," said Tyson Kackley, FACT RTI project lead at Naval Sea Systems Command Surface Warfare Centers Panama City Division. "Models relevant to the [Navy] system in question are interfaced with FACT models for performance, reliability, [and] cost concurrently.”

FACT allows rapid consideration of hundreds of thousands of design permutations, to determine which designs are most promising, Kackley said. This system-of-systems analysis gives decision makers cost, reliability and performance information in under 90 seconds, allowing them to assess feasibility before incurring operational costs.

The first step of the project was to acquire validated 3D data of the vehicle spaces aboard the USS Arlington (LPD 24) via a LIDAR scanning process conducted by NSWC Philadelphia scientists and engineers.  The team then inserted a computer-aided design, or CAD, model of a conceptual vehicle inside the surface ship scan to determine feasibility of vehicle transport inside the ship.

The FACT Run Time Interface enhancement will add the capability to consider the transportability aspects of the vehicle design, Kackley added.

“In other words, will a proposed design or design modification be able to be transported aboard ship, whether amphibious ships or prepositioning ships?" he said.

MCSC’s Transportability and Naval Integration office serves as the accreditation agent, supporting eventual accreditation of the tool by the chief engineer of the Marine Corps. While the accreditation has not occurred yet, a memorandum of understanding is already in place to support future fleet integration. The fiscal year 2016 work is to develop the software, which will add this new capability to FACT.

The Modeling and Simulation Division within MCSC’s Systems Engineering, Interoperability, Architectures, and Technology—or SIAT—manages the project in support of the Office of Naval Research. The two NAVSEA warfare centers interface with fleet operators and deliver the science behind the capability.

"MCSC’s Modeling and Simulation Division recognized the significance of integrating 3D ships scans with 3D models to enhance tradeoff analysis,” Velazquez said. “These techniques allow for rapid assessment and validation of government solution-based concepts, and provide an objective metric for analyzing results.  Our role continues to build on an all-encompassing tradeoff modeling capability that supports research, testing and evaluation of systems to include both ground vehicles and aviation platforms for transportability."

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