As the emerging near-peer threat landscape rapidly evolves and the defense industrial base consolidates, Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) is expanding production capacity to complete some of the world’s largest aviation projects. Strengthened by the cutting-edge digital engineering tools and open architecture solutions that have made it a global leader in aviation mission systems integration and modification for six decades, SNC aims to allow customers to own the technical baseline.

At this pivotal transition point, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) has realized a significant gap in its investment and acquisition strategies over the past two decades. That’s why SNC’s next-generation capabilities are essential in supporting and transforming DOD’s existing tools and platforms – with or without access to original equipment manufacturer (OEM) data.

“Today, we have OEMs who continue to struggle executing post-production aircraft modification,” said Brady Hauboldt, SNC’s vice president of business development. “It’s the worst-case scenario for the DOD who, without access to design data, is forced to award ever more contracts to OEMs who struggle to deliver on time and on budget.”

If the U.S. goes to war today – or tomorrow – it will be forced to rely on the systems already in inventory. These will need to be modified, adapted and improved upon at an exceptionally rapid pace to make them viable in a high-threat environment against an enemy who is also able to quickly adjust.

SNC’s advanced digital engineering capabilities, revolutionized with the emergence of modern tools over the past five to 10 years, have created cutting-edge approaches to post-production modifications, allowing them to fill in the gaps for customers when OEM data is unavailable. This is a profound capability, enabled by modern digital tools, that was not available in the 20th century.

Hauboldt says SNC’s digital scanning, modeling, spectrography and analysis tools allow for unprecedented, near-complete re-creation of digital data packages. Most SNC-generated data then becomes the property of the customer. This enables future competitions, reduces lifecycle costs and frees customers from reliance on OEM technical data packages. Permanently.

SNC’s solutions are born digital, starting with the customer requirements. They are designed in a digital engineering environment, tested and matured using a model-based systems engineering approach. Using the physical aircraft, SNC collects empirical data and then harnesses it to generate a digital model, which can be anything from a simple outer mold line to complete aerodynamic or electromagnetic models.

An integrated digital environment, surrounded by common digital toolsets, is essential for digital transformation in this new threat landscape. For the last several decades, SNC has invested heavily in tools, training and multi-level-security digital environments to ensure its engineers, production operations, contracting, finance and program managers are all using one digital source of data. Thanks to these significant investments, the company is on track to be the first in the industry to offer true Digital Twins in a post-production environment.

“As we field our integrated digital environment in 2023, our customers can have confidence that the digital models and designs represent the one authoritative source of truth – so they can trust that the work is done right, the first time, every time,” added Hauboldt.

In the face of an ever-evolving near-peer threat, the need to modify legacy platforms to meet the mission requirements of the future has never been more urgent. Digital engineering – free from the constraints of cumbersome, inefficient OEMs and data licensing – is the innovative, cost-effective solution our warfighters need to succeed. SNC is ready and able to deliver.