EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. — The 412th Electronic Warfare Group is one step closer to bringing the Joint Simulation Environment to life at Edwards Air Force Base, California. The 412th EWG recently began work to pave the way for a new facility to house the JSE.
JSE is a scalable, expandable, high fidelity government-owned, non-proprietary modeling and simulation environment to conduct testing on fifth-plus generation aircraft and systems, and is accreditable as a supplement to open-air testing.
The 70,000 square foot JSE facility planned for Edwards is actually one of two; the other will be constructed at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. As part of the construction efforts, the EWG is also looking to hire more than 100 new personnel between both facilities — primarily engineers with software skill sets.
The Edwards facility will focus on developmental testing while the 30,000 square foot Nellis AFB facility will focus on operational testing. However, both facilities will be built with similar hardware and software configurations so both buildings will be able to augment each other’s capabilities, said Humberto Blanco, JSE project manager. The JSE facility is also being designed with that flexibility in mind.
While construction for the JSE is still months away, the 412th EWG is already ensuring that when it comes online, “growing pains” will be as minimal as possible.
“One of the things we realized was that in order for our people to become trained and get familiar with the system, its capabilities, and participate in the development, it required us to develop an in-house instantiation of what’s happening at Pax River (Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland) as well as at SIMAF (U.S. Air Force Simulation and Analysis Facility),” said Blanco. “Those two facilities have limited JSE capabilities, so we advocated for, and received funding to instantiate those capabilities here.”
Construction crews are reconfiguring simulator and computer systems inside Building 1020 to make room for a small-scale JSE system that EWG engineers can utilize to ensure all systems are operational and internal issues are rectified before the actual JSE facility is finished. Having a small-scale instantiation of the larger facility also allows EWG customers to concurrently utilize the facilities without service interruptions, Blanco said.
“It will allow us to bring JSE simulators online and begin to experiment and to learn,” Blanco said.
The reconfiguring inside Bldg. 1020 will afford software engineers the time to be familiar with the incoming systems, which will benefit customers, said Gerald Lockwood, Modeling and Simulation Flight chief.
“The coders have to really touch and see how to integrate these systems. We’re building products for it so we can develop, compile, test and get feedback on issues,” Lockwood said. “There’s so many components. It’s going to be a large battlespace in an interactive environment.”
The overall goal of the JSE is to allow the testers and engineers the capability to test multiple platforms during the developmental and operational testing phases of a platform.
“We’ve been asked to develop a high-fidelity modeling and simulation environment for initially the F-35 and F-22 that will allow us to test aircraft in ways that we’re currently unable to test,” Blanco said. “So the environment will encompass things like weather, terrain, multiple other platforms and air and ground threats.”
“The JSE is one of my favorite projects because in terms of initial pay off, it’s just a few short years down the road,” said Brig. Gen. Christopher Azzano, Air Force Test Center commander. “We’re going to use the F-35 as the threshold platform to help prove the concept, but the long term potential of JSE is huge when you consider you can integrate virtual and constructive elements with live and open air capability in a way that creates an environment that we can no longer build or replicate strictly with open air resources.”
Azzano said that he foresees the JSE becoming a step in the testing and developing of Air Force platforms in the future and that, in just a short time, AFTC customers will see its value.
“It’s really exciting because we can replicate the environment that our systems and warfighters might see in a dense threat environment somewhere around the globe. And we can replicate that for verification and validation that goes along with test and evaluation, and we can do it for training too,” Azzano said. “I really think we’re just barely scratching the surface on the pay off and the potential of JSE, and with the right vision I think we’ll get there, it’s going to take some time and a lot of investment, but it is a hugely important program.”
While the ground-breaking for both facilities is not scheduled until May 2020, Blanco said that when the buildings do come online, his team will be ready.
“Instead of waiting until the buildings are finished, we are developing these lab integrations here, so when the buildings are finished, we can hit the ground running,” Blanco said. “It’s very exciting times for the Air Force and the modeling and simulations community. I tell people on the outside that this is going to be the best video game ever.”