DoD adds Navy engine simulation program to supercomputing portfolio

The Department of Defense (DoD) will provide rare access to its supercomputers for a NAWCAD engines project that could change the future of naval aviation testing.

The NAWCAD project selected for inclusion in this year’s High Performance Computing Modernization Program (HPCMP) Frontier Project portfolio uses computer simulation to test naval aviation engines before physical tests are conducted in a lab. For example, engineers can use computers to simulate sand ingestion in helicopter engines to improve performance in harsh environments without risking actual engines, aircraft and aircrew in live testing. Such predictive modeling also significantly reduces aircraft lifecycle costs and improves readiness.

“NAWCAD’s groundwork in predictive modeling has the potential to transform DoD acquisition,” said NAWCAD Commander, Rear Adm. John Lemmon. “Leveraging advanced computer simulations will help reduce cost and save time during the development of expensive aircraft, weapons, and subsystems and reduce risk during in-person testing – this can be game-changing for programs across our services.”

Every year, the DoD designates a handful of computationally intensive projects in research, development, test, evaluation and acquisition as Frontier Projects because they promise engineering outcomes not achievable using typically available HPCMP resources. The Frontier Project designation gives the warfare center’s Propulsion and Power department, as well as its U.S. Army Research Laboratory partners, access to significant supercomputing resources that will advance the team’s modeling and simulation research. Findings will determine whether the technology applies to engines across both services, and other technologies in the DoD’s inventory.

“Breakthroughs in computational fluid dynamics, computing, and artificial intelligence have changed how naval aviation does research, test, and evaluation,” said NAWCAD aerospace engineer and project co-lead, Dr. Russell Powers. “We’re excited to demonstrate what predictive modeling brings to the Navy, DoD, and industry.”

“The advanced design tools resulting from this project will lead to quantum leaps in the performance, efficiency, and reliability of next-generation gas turbine engines,” said Army Research Lab’s Dr. Luis Bravo, the engines project co-lead.