SGI Will Cut Costs Of Joint Strike Fighter Program

September 1, 2000


Mountain View, CALIF. — SGI announced that its visual computing systems are being used by the two contractors competing to build about 3,000 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) aircraft for the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps and the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force and Royal Navy.

The Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp. are competing to develop and produce the stealthy JSF, a next-generation multirole strike fighter that will replace the U.S. military’s aging fleet of F-16, A-10, F/A-18 C/D and AV-8B aircraft. The contract will be awarded early next year, and the winning contractor will begin engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) of the JSF in 2001, with the first operational aircraft slated for delivery in 2008.

The focus of the JSF program is affordability: reducing the development, production and ownership costs of the JSF family of aircraft. To help the JSF program accomplish this goal, both Boeing and Lockheed Martin turned to SGI for its advanced visualization technology to help them find the best ways to design, build and maintain the JSF.

SGI Origin 2000 servers and Silicon Graphics Onyx2 visual supercomputers allowed Boeing and Lockheed Martin to design the JSF virtually, long before metal was bent for demonstration aircraft. Both contractors are required to build and fly two concept demonstrator aircraft as part of the JSF Concept Demonstration and Risk Reduction (CDRR) phase.

Boeing’s entry in the JSF competition is the X-32. SGI systems were used by Boeing extensively in the X-32 design phase and in the design of the operational JSF.

“Boeing used SGI’s advanced graphics capabilities and multiple CPUs to perform, among others, collaborative fly-through sessions as well as virtual build/assembly/maintenance tasks to ensure concurrent engineering and first-time quality,” said Jim O’Neill, chief of engineering for the Boeing JSF. “These processes and the hardware that made them possible allowed us to define and integrate the aircraft across multiple companies in record time, with higher quality and at a fraction of the cost that we had before.”

Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. (LM Aero) is addressing the issues of affordability and performance through its Virtual Product Development Initiative (VPDI), in which everyone involved in new product definition has access to relevant information and the most current design iteration. By identifying processes and technologies and building them into an integrated infrastructure, the company plans to achieve significant reductions in cycle time and cost for development, production and support.

“We have focused on eight key high-payoff initiatives, which include a combination of process change, hardware and software,” said Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co.’s Mary Ann Horter, program director for VPDI. “In some areas we are seeing reductions in cycle time and cost savings in excess of 70 percent to 80 percent. Virtual simulations have been key components in helping us meet these targets.”

LM Aero has more than 450 Silicon Graphics visual workstations used for CATIA, Delmia and EAI applications in the design and manufacturing group as well as several Onyx2 systems and Origin 2000 servers across multiple disciplines.

“Several teams may design structures that work well by themselves but interfere with the objectives of others,” Horter said. “Visualization tools enable teams to see the impact of their work on the entire project before the design is firmly established, minimizing the cost of making design changes.”

LM Aero is also applying visualization technology to verify the material flightworthiness of the JSF, which will use a higher percentage of composites than previous fighters. To identify potential flaws that could lead to part failure under stress conditions, the company is replacing conventional water-coupled ultrasonic devices with its own Laser Ultrasonic Technology (Laser UT) system.

With an Onyx2 supercomputer, visualization software developed at LM Aero and a gantry robot, ultrasonic waves are translated into 3D solid models. Inspectors then examine the models to determine material flightworthiness of each composite part. With the Laser UT system Lockheed Martin can reduce the time it takes to inspect a part, such as a composite inlet duct, from 24 hours to less than two hours.

Lockheed Martin also employs Onyx2 systems and Origin 2000 servers for avionics and tactical software integration as well as for pilot training.

“Regardless of which contractor ultimately wins the final JSF contract, it is the taxpayers and those pilots who will fly this low-cost, next-generation fighter aircraft that will reap the benefits in terms of affordability and performance,” said Anthony Robbins, president, SGI Federal. “As a company, we are proud to have played a role in creating the most combat-capable, efficient and lethal family of multirole strike fighters for the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and our allies.”

The SGI Origin server family is used for high-performance, computationally intensive applications in business, government and the scientific and technical communities. The use of MIPS processors, combined with the SGI IRIX operating system and ccNUMA architecture in a 64-bit scalable server environment, allows Origin servers to scale to thousands of processors, providing the opportunity to seamlessly grow as customer requirements demand.

The Silicon Graphics Onyx2 visual workstation, with its high-bandwidth ccNUMA architecture, combines supercomputing and visualization technologies to process 3D graphics, 2D imaging and video data in real time. It is an ideal solution for gaining insight into the fields of manufacturing, government, engineering, science, research and entertainment. The Onyx2 family of products offers flexible configurations ranging from a deskside platform to multiple rack systems. The company is located on the Web at .


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