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Harnessing the Digital Thread to Build a Valuable Through-Life Evidence Chain


In this series of articles, QinetiQ experts outline how a modern Test & Evaluation (T&E) enterprise allows military customers to rapidly and safely experiment with new technologies and processes.

Harnessing the digital thread - image showing chain links

This, in turn, enables them to evolve and create new defence capabilities to counter emerging new threats and get new technology and systems into the hands of war-fighters faster.


In a previous article, we looked at QinetiQ’s vision for a defence digitally enabled T&E Enterprise. It described how the T&E enablers need to evolve to generate early confidence in emerging military capability, and sustain and enhance it through life to operate in dynamic and complex environments.

The way to realise this vision is to embrace the adoption of digital engineering, starting from the product ‘concept’ phase and progressing through life, capturing evaluation data as a shared single authoritative source of truth, known as the evaluation digital thread. Our vision is of a digitally enabled T&E enterprise that would enhance confidence in understanding of defence capabilities, through an integrated approach to Capability Generation and Assurance; reducing schedule time, risk and cost, and enhancing the war fighters’ capability.

Globally defence budgets are facing huge pressure as nations struggle to keep pace with the unprecedented increase in threats. To counter these constantly evolving threats, defence platforms are becoming more complex and must be built and released into operational service quicker, with rapid and agile upgrades enabled. This must all occur against a background of shrinking defence budgets and a potential global recession.

The digital twin acts as a digital representation of the live platform. Evaluation data is gathered on the digital thread as design changes are made, augmenting the overall digital twin of the platform – evolving with the platform until it is released into service. As the design process evolves and iterative evaluation occurs, both live and model based, T&E data is gathered and the evaluation digital thread is built. This is then used to inform the many engineering review points which take the programme forward from concept through to final manufacture.

Find out how Digital Thread works in defence in the video below.