Model-based design passes muster for defense system

July 13, 2011 //By Matt Behr, MathWorks
Model-based design continues to grow within the aerospace and defense industries. It is especially used in the development of certified systems and on large, multi-organizational programs.

The development of aerospace and defense systems presents unique challenges. The first challenge is managing their extraordinary scale and complexity. Frequently, these projects are systems of systems, requiring integration of disparate dedicated elements.

Next, low production volume means that nonrecurring engineering costs are carefully scrutinized. One-time costs for research, design and development cannot be distributed over thousands or millions of units.

Finally, testing these systems can be difficult, costly and unsafe. For example, commercial and military satellites cannot be fully tested on the ground, and conducting flight tests on new aircraft is both expensive and hazardous.

Aerospace and defense organizations have long used modeling and simulation to address these challenges. Simulation technologies, including commercial tools such as Simulink, have evolved to support engineers throughout the design, development and test cycles.

Early in the design cycle, simulations are used to understand and analyze system behavior. As the functional and performance requirements of systems have evolved, so too have simulation and analysis capabilities.

Many organizations still use custom Fortran-based models in their design processes. Custom environments, while effective for their original task, can be difficult platforms on which to add modeling capabilities.

That dynamic has prompted the Organizations are looking to model-based techniques to ease the burden of standards compliance industry to turn to commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) simulation pack-ages. An example of this evolution is the addition of discrete event simulation to Simulink. NASA and TriVector Services recently used the capabilities to analyze the impact of communication latencies on the Ares I rocket.

Having benefited from model-based design’s utility in simulation, verification and production implementation, organizations are looking to model-based techniques to ease the burden of compliance with industry standards and enable integration testing via simulation on multi-organizational programs.

High-integrity programs requiring compliance with industry standards such as DO-178B (guidelines for determining whether software will perform safely in an airborne environment) present unique challenges. The increased burdens of testing and artifact generation significantly

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