Department of Defense
High Performance Computing Modernization Program

DoD Frontier Projects

The HPCMP established DoD Frontier Projects in FY13 to enable the exploration of RDT&E and acquisition engineering outcomes that would not be achievable using typically available HPCMP resources. These projects are DoD high-impact RDT&E computational efforts that are selected through a rigorous evaluation process that includes both OSD and Service/Agency mission-relevance and technical excellence. The Frontier Project portfolio represents the Program’s most computationally-demanding, resource-intensive set of projects that require sustained and extensive assistance from the entire HPCMP ecosystem (DSRCs, user support, software development, PET, and networking) to fully succeed. For FY20 there are ten active Frontier Projects following the completion of three projects at the end of FY19, and the start of three new projects in FY20. A steady-state of 10-12 Frontier Projects is expected to be maintained for the foreseeable future. The Frontier portfolio is expected to continue to utilize 25% to 30% of HPCMP total Program computational resources and, thus, represents a considerable resource investment on potential breakthrough concepts.

The Frontier Project portfolio spans the entire RDT&E and acquisition engineering spectrum, from basic research through direct support, to acquisition programs at the decision-making stage. Many of these projects are interdisciplinary in nature, focusing on the boundaries among two or more technical disciplines. DoD organizations executing these projects include each Service’s primary research laboratories and basic research granting agencies, as well as other Service laboratories. Principal investigators are from government and academia. Over 100 scientists and engineers are active Frontier users on the HPCMP systems. Collectively, these Frontier Projects used approximately 30% of available HPCMP computing resources in FY19, accounting for approximately 1.7 billion core-hours on HPCMP systems. Specific projects include leading-edge research in combustion, chemistry, and turbulence, and development of weather and ocean models to support DoD operations. In addition, there are projects that are critical components of the Navy’s electromagnetic railgun development, Army rotorcraft acquisition programs, and Army armor development. Each FY 2020 Frontier Project is summarized below.

Development of Multi-scale Models for Material Design (Mark Gordon, Iowa State University, sponsored by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research)

This Frontier Project’s goal is the development and application of a multi-scale method that seamlessly integrates electronic structure theory methods, parameter-free coarse-graining methods, and molecular dynamics/Monte Carlo simulation methods to provide accurate and efficient predictions of bulk properties of advanced materials, without the need for empirically fitted parameters. The new multi-scale simulation methods will be implemented in the widely-used GAMESS code, thus making these new capabilities available to a broad user base in government, industry, and academia. The methodologies will be applied to accurate computation of the properties of ionic liquids, which, as potential new propellants, may have significant impacts to DoD, including (a) reliable and cost-effective access to space; (b) improved satellite maneuverability, and increased on-orbit lifetime; and (c) reduction of environmental and toxicological hazards, and improved safety associated with propellant storage and handling.

Terminal Ballistics for Lethality and Protection Sciences (Robert Doney, Army Research Laboratory)

This Frontier Project seeks to advance the state-of-the-art in terminal ballistics by focusing on three themes: rigorous uncertainty quantification of ballistic events, understanding human response to ballistic loading, and breakthrough capability for materials modeling. Each area requires multi-scale continuum and mesoscale modeling capability. Successful investigation of these three themes will further develop the quality of shock physics codes which provide critical modeling capability to enable significant DoD advances in armor, lethality, and hypervelocity impact.

Validation of Turbulence and Turbulent Combustion Models for Air Force Propulsion Systems (Venkateswaran Sankaran, Air Force Research Laboratory)

The goal of this Frontier Project is the development, validation, and application of advanced turbulence and turbulent combustion models designed specifically for Air Force propulsion applications, including gas turbines, scramjets, and rockets. Reacting direct numerical simulations (DNS) and large-eddy simulations (LES), coupled with existing and new turbulence, combustion, and turbulent combustion modes, will be evaluated using a hierarchy of unit physics, canonical, and grand challenge problems in gas turbines, augmentors, rockets, and scramjets.

Navy Electromagnetic Railgun (Joel Mejeur, Naval Surface Warfare Center)

This Frontier Project will support basic science and applied studies on development of the electromagnetic railgun launcher technologies through the end of ONR’s initial phase in the technology development of these systems. This project will expand understanding of the complex behavior within the molten interface between the rail and armature, thus increasing the understanding of armature and launcher dynamics of a railgun, and assisting with detailed analysis of the launcher performance. The project builds on an initial three-year Frontier Project in this same area which addressed, and overcame, many of the multi-disciplinary computational and technical challenges of successfully modeling and simulating electromagnetic railguns; and the current project extends the effort to include both analysis of the in-bore flow fields and their impact on shot performance, and detailed analysis of electromagnetic fields with the projectile.

Prediction of Hypersonic Laminar-Turbulent Transition through Direct Numerical Simulation (Jonathan Poggie, Purdue University, sponsored by Air Force Research Laboratory)

The objective of this project is to improve the prediction of hypersonic laminar-turbulent transition, and consequently to improve the prediction of heating rates in hypersonic flight. It will predict acoustic noise and transition in conventional hypersonic wind tunnels to make these facilities more useful for vehicle design. Direct numerical simulation (DNS) of hypersonic boundary-layer receptivity will be performed to predict the acoustic noise spectrum radiated from turbulent boundary-layers on wind tunnel walls, and examine the effects on boundary-layer transition of disturbances introduced from the free-stream and at the tunnel wall. With this new understanding of the effects of tunnel noise, conventional hypersonic wind tunnels will be useful for testing hypersonic vehicles in spite of this noise. This may save the DoD the cost of a new hypersonic quiet facility, an investment of at least $20M with 5-10 years of development. The proposed work will impact several DoD programs in hypersonics, including the High-Speed Strike Weapon (HSSW).

Earth System Prediction Capability (E. Joseph Metzger, Naval Research Laboratory)

The overall goal of this Frontier Project is to perform the R&D necessary to produce the Navy's contribution to the national Earth System Prediction Capability (ESPC). Specifically, this will be the first operational global long-range coupled forecast system for the atmosphere, ocean, sea ice, and waves that extends beyond a week to a month or more. The data assimilation will be strongly coupled among the components. Multi-year re-analyses and reforecasts will be used to understand system biases. The target for transition to FOC is a single high-resolution deterministic 16-day forecast, and a lower resolution 60-day ensemble of forecasts to be run daily.

Integrated Computational Flight Simulation in Support of the Future Naval Capabilities Dynamic Interface Virtual Environment Program (Susan Polsky, Naval Air Warfare Center – Aircraft Division)

This Frontier Project’s goal is to predict the limits of flight envelopes for rotorcraft landing on ships. The project will use CFD coupled with Manned Flight Simulator aircraft flight dynamics models to accurately predict the non-linear aerodynamics affecting helicopter performance and pilot workload due to coupling between atmospheric winds/ship air wake, dynamic control surface motion (as controlled by the aircraft flight control laws and autonomous pilot inputs), and aircraft motion relative to the ship. These models will be further developed, tested, and validated against wind tunnel and flight test data.

High-Fidelity Modeling and Simulation to Support Army Aviation Acquisition Programs (Andrew Wissink, Army Aviation Development Directorate, AMRDEC) 

The goal of this project is to integrate the CREATE-AV Helios and Kestrel high-fidelity modeling and simulation tools into Future Vertical Lift acquisitions of interest to Army Aviation to demonstrate the impact of these tools for the acquisition of major defense systems by reducing cost, development time, and risk.  The project will perform high-fidelity multi-disciplinary computational modeling and simulation for the Future Attack and Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA), Future Long Range Attack Aircraft (FLRAA), and Future Unmanned Air Systems (FUAS) acquisition programs in Future Vertical Lift (FVL), in order to characterize performance, loads, vibration, noise, and safety to inform decision teams. Frontier resources will enable high quality computational analysis of these configurations with a high-resolution digital model before the expensive manufacturing and flight test phase of the acquisition. Because FUAS has a longer-term development cycle (scheduled DoD insertion FY27), the project will focus on newly envisioned applications of the current Gray Eagle UAS configuration presently used by the Army.

CVN 78 Modeling and Simulation Validation for Full Ship Shock Trial (FSST) Alternative (Brian Lang, Naval Surface Warfare Center – Carderock Division)

NAVSEA has been tasked by SECNAV's office with performing M&S in advance of the summer 2020 USS GERALD R. FORD (CVN 78) Full Ship Shock Trial (FSST) in an effort to validate the Navy Enhanced Sierra Mechanics (NESM) software using blind, pre-trial predictions to support an FSST alternative. This task seeks to complete NESM simulations for all 3 planned FSST shots prior to the 2020 FSST.  The NESM software will be validated against data that will be recorded during the next FSST, which will be conducted against the CVN 78 in late FY20.  One hundred fifty shock response sensors will be installed on CVN 78 specifically for this effort, which will provide an ample data set against which to validate NESM for predicting equipment dynamic inputs under shock loading.

High-Fidelity Physics-Based Simulation of Kinetic and Directed Energy Weapons Integration Strategies for Future Air Dominance Platforms (Scott Sherer, Air Force Research Laboratory – Air Vehicles)

The goals of this project include development of robust flow-control options for integration of directed and kinetic energy weapon systems on future air dominance platforms, and demonstration of selected options on a representative maneuvering vehicle.  To accomplish these goals, high-fidelity, unsteady CFD using primarily DDES to design and evaluate flow control options will be used.  Novel script-based grid generation will be used to quickly develop and simulate new geometries.  Overset grid techniques will be used to incorporate selected concepts onto vehicles and dynamic, moving grid simulations will be performed.