Thought Leadership

Accelerating the digital transformation in defense: USAF selects Siemens’ Teamcenter

By Dale Tutt

Digitalization is taking off in a big way at the United States Air Force (USAF). 

Recently, the United States Air Force selected Siemens’ Teamcenter as the single solution to support the USAF in product lifecycle management (PLM). The USAF selected Teamcenter because of the software’s open architecture, interoperability and widespread use across a large segment of the aerospace and defense ecosystem.

This latest announcement not only strengthens our relationship with the USAF, but also demonstrates just how important, actually how critical the digital transformation has become in both the defense and commercial sectors.

Read the official Teamcenter/USAF press release here.

Why is this happening?

To reach its vision in an era of intense competition and innovation – along with more complexity than ever, the USAF needs to create advanced aircraft much faster, and at lower cost. Through the use of digital technologies, new aircraft and innovative new capabilities can be developed and delivered more quickly at significant cost savings. It’s not just happening in the United States, defense agencies around the world realize the current path is unsustainable. They are turning to digitalization to develop, manufacture and support their new aircraft programs. 

I read recently in Aviation Week the goal of the United Kingdom’s new sixth-generation Tempest program is to reduce time and schedule by 50 percent. The official program has yet to be fully confirmed, but the Tempest is expected to be in service by 2035. The UK is pushing for a complete “rethink” of design, manufacturing and support. They are talking about a fully digitalized end-to-end solution. A digital transformation that will require a comprehensive digital twin – not only to reduce time and costs, but to meet all goals over the full lifecycle of the Tempest program.

Looking at the past 50+ years, each new program has been substantially more expensive than the last program. But this is not sustainable. Whether it’s the UK Tempest program, the U.S. Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) program, or the multitude of new generation aircraft around the world, the goal is the same, to not just bend the cost and schedule curves, but to break them in an era where the new aircraft are exponentially more complex.

To innovate and tame complexity, agencies all over the globe are demanding a software and product development process that’s more agile and collaborative. Technologies used today have to be flexible and open in order to allow teams to simultaneously leverage legacy data – while bringing onboard new and exciting technologies. Inevitably, this means faster delivery of capabilities and improved operational readiness.

Indeed, the big driver behind all of this is moving faster while lowering costs. The agencies and companies that embrace digitalization will not only survive in this current environment…they will thrive!

How Siemens defines the digital transformation

To successfully complete a digital transformation, A&D companies and their partners need to have both a digital twin and digital thread.  A comprehensive digital twin enables them to better predict product performance and production processes by analyzing, simulating and verifying before physical production is started. “Flying it before you build it” can significantly reduce development time and costs and speed delivery of the final product.

Now, here’s where it gets interesting, while a digital twin can be set up for just about anything in the engineering or manufacturing disciplines, if it’s not connected or integrated to all phases of product lifecycle development, you’re not realizing the twin’s full potential. In the defense sector, we see examples of the digital twin and 3D CAD implementations. But it’s more than just managing 3D CAD – you need a comprehensive digital thread that seamlessly connects all aspects of the product twin to other phases of the development and production program for the continuous exchange of data – the automation of data – up and down the product development lifecycle.

Siemens is the only company to offer a series of digital threads for increased automation and digitalization. With the digital thread, all processes are connected. Customers gain a deeper understanding and greater visibility into all product development phases up and down the value chain. Here’s a great white paper on the role of digital threads within the digital enterprise.

You can also listen to my Talking Aerospace Today podcast series for more information on how Siemens is moving the digital transformation forward.

The Siemens Xcelerator portfolio

Teamcenter is just one tool from Siemens Xcelerator, a comprehensive and integrated portfolio of software, services and application development platform. Xcelerator is what empowers organizations and departments of all sizes to become digital enterprises. It’s a modern and flexible environment that can be personalized and adapted to fit industry-specific needs. With Xcelerator, the DoD and the A&D industry have the ability to integrate disparate repositories of program data. Not only that, but they also can effectively share product performance details at any time, from any location.

Just one of the many advantages of a digitalized enterprise.

The future of the A&D industry – here today

This latest announcement from the USAF illustrates how the Siemens digital transformation is fostering innovation across the entire aerospace and defense industry.

There’s no question Siemens A&D is bringing the promise of the future to our customers today by introducing the next generation of digitalized product design, manufacturing and sustainment. We like to say – Where today meets tomorrow. It’s about bringing the technologies of tomorrow to A&D design and manufacturing facilities today.

The recent USAF/Teamcenter announcement and our commitment to digitalization is proof to Defense Ministers around the world that Siemens is both a leader and innovator in the digital transformation.  

Dale Tutt is the Vice President of Aerospace and Defense Industry for Siemens Digital Industries Software. He is responsible for global Aerospace and Defense industry strategy for Siemens, driving specific industry requirements into industry-specific product and market solutions for Aerospace and Defense customers. Dale has 30 years of experience in engineering design, development, and program leadership within the Aerospace industry.


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