As the 2019 Space and Missile Defense Symposium convenes in Huntsville, AL today, the US, its friends and allies are faced with a rapidly evolving threat environment in the space and missile defence domains. Jeff Baxter, Engineering Department Manager Analytical Graphics, Inc. (AGI), added some context to the threat sets in this battle space, observing “Technology is advancing and proliferating at a rate that we have never seen, and our adversaries are doing things now that we did not anticipate when many of our current systems were architected. They are able to place our space assets at risk through multiple means in almost any orbit regime.” And while ballistic missile technology is proliferating, the pace at which the hypersonic threat is advancing is exceeding expectations. Mr Baxter added “In order to stay ahead of the threat, we must field new offensive and defensive capabilities faster than we historically have been able [to]. The key word that stands out to AGI is ‘speed’.”
AGI products are said by many to be “the de facto industry standard for space systems analysis and visualization, with over 20,000 active users worldwide,” Mr Baxter told MON. Indeed, AGI’s products are used in all phases of the programme lifecycle and are used operationally by warfighting and intelligence organisations across the national security enterprise, as well as the technology and acquisition functions that support them. In addition, he pointed out that the breadth of AGI software addresses the multi-domain threats facing today’s national security operators, by integrating land, sea, air, and space systems into a global mission management capability. “Our flagship family of products, Systems Tool Kit (STK), is a physics-based, multi-domain environment that is essential to the development, simulation, and analysis of transcending mission and system models. These persistent, physics-infused mission and system models allow users to realise the full value of digital engineering. AGI technology is used from planning and design, to training and operations, to model complex systems and evaluate their performance in real or simulated time,” he told MON. Relevant to delegates at this year’s symposium, the missile defence community, for example, uses AGI products for integrated system-level design and analysis. Users develop complete system-level performance models of ballistic missiles, interceptors, and space launch vehicles, which they insert in the creation of multiple-stage missile trajectories, battle engagement scenarios and space launches.
Similar to other companies in the very broad aerospace and defence industry, AGI has reached its current pinnacle of success through collaboration and partnerships – working with industry to deliver the broadest, deepest set of capabilities for the marketplace. “We have both product partners and service partners. Product partners integrate their unique technologies with AGI software to broaden and/or deepen STK capabilities,” Mr Baxter explained. A few examples of AGI’s partnerships related to space and missile defence include: Advanced Solutions, Inc. (ASI); SAIC; Orbit Logic; Phoenix Integration; and ANSYS. Furthermore, AGI also collaborates with service partners, who integrate AGI software into turn-key solutions for their customers. Other examples related to space and missile defence include NextGen and Riverside Research.
At the 2019 SMD Symposium, AGI is teaming up with one of its partners, ANSYS, to demonstrate how to incorporate high-fidelity, multi-physics simulation models with multi-domain mission-level modeling to engineer the US military’s next-generation missile defence system. “This collaboration integrates the complex early stages of missile defence system development, effectively enabling warfighters to combat high-speed, highly maneuverable hypersonic weapons,” Mr Baxter explained.
Asked to highlight significant developments MON readers should be attentive to in the next six or so months, Mr Baxter responded, “AGI continues to advance our capabilities in the space and missile defense domains. In particular, we are putting a lot of R&D into hypersonics, specifically within our STK/Aviator module. While we’re already very well positioned to enable a digital engineering workflow that allows users to ‘adjust the knobs’ to change variables (thrust, drag, etc.) that impact the larger mission, we’re adding additional features to provide high-fidelity modeling of hypersonic trajectories. Additionally, customers can also integrate their own tools and performance models into the STK framework for the broader multi-domain mission and system of systems analysis.”
In addition to just STK/Aviator enhancements, AGI will be releasing the next version of STK, 11.7 this autumn, with several new features for space and missile defence.