Digital cufflinks and modeled designs. The digital vision of the defense industry

Innovation for the defense industry is moving from new technologies, from digital twins to model-based design and software-defined technologies. The example of Northrop Grumman Italia (NGI), which offers solutions for the development of future systems such as sixth generation Tempest and FCA fighter jets as well as the civilian applications of Urban air mobility

Keeping up with technological developments is one of the privileges of the defense industry. Implementing new processes for realizing the systems of the future, taking advantage of cutting-edge technologies and methods in the digital design sector, gives companies the advantage of exponentially accelerating development times, while increasing their efficiency and effectiveness. Among the main systems of this real engineering revolution is the so-called “digital twin”, a digital twin that allows you to generate and reproduce the behavior of a system and subsequently verify its conformity with the starting model, which also provides long-term effects. The digital twin allows a virtual representation of a real system, and accelerates the process of performance analysis, evaluated according to the different operational scenarios in which the product will operate. The system therefore optimizes the development process thanks to the use of historical data and real-time data, which is also able to simulate the future.

Digitized design

Another groundbreaking solution is represented by model-based design, thanks to which the behavior of the individual components of a system is mathematically modeled. This approach makes it possible at any time to verify both the detailed behavior and the overall performance of the system or of a “System of Systems”, such as an aircraft. It is not only a methodological change, but an engineering mindset that allows you to optimize the entire process, from teamwork to collaboration between the various functions during the product life cycle. The digital modeling of the possibilities of systems makes them more and more inherently digital, and thus naturally shifts to new types of architectures, where adaptation to specific applications or operational scenarios that utilize software-defined technologies is facilitated.

From hardware to software

In our country, Northrop Grumman Italia (NGI) has made the “digital vision” its own by introducing new technological solutions where “hardware-based” architectures are converted into a “software-defined” vision. As such, the new systems evolve through software updates that not only aim to improve their capabilities, but also to enhance their features by getting the most out of the hardware they rely on. NGI strengthens this approach by connecting the set of enabling technologies with “open architecture” hardware platforms that use standard interfaces and open modular systems. This will allow the products to be projected in a scenario where the available hardware platforms are multifunctional and allow to operate in multiple operational domains, adapted to unforeseen tactical needs and requirements.

Innovation in Italy

All of these technologies have been developed by Northrop Grumman Italia, which has embraced the concept of digital transformation by implementing these innovative solutions in its manufacturing processes, to combine the new disruptive systems with the experience of the world of defense electronics. The digital twins, model-based design and software-defined technologies are made in the Pomezia factory and are Itar-free, ie. not subject to US export controls. NGI thus aims to maximize the value of its solutions and also leverage them for use in the development of sixth generation fighter jets, from Tempest, where Italian industry already plays a leading role, to FCAS in France, Germany and Spain.

(Photo: Northrop Grumman Italy)

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