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Activity title

Early stage warship design & procurement for operational effectiveness and affordability

Activity Reference



Applied Vehicle Technology

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Awaiting Publication

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Costing, Design processes, Operational effectiveness, Operational effectiveness models, Ship Synthesis Models, Simulations, Warship concept design


NATO nations´ warships need to be effective, affordable and feasible. The reason is simple. Achieving both operational effectiveness and affordability is crucial if the ships are to cope effectively with the threats they were built to counter, and if they are to be built in the numbers dictated by NATO’s presence requirements. Unfortunately, achieving both operational effectiveness and affordability is not straightforward. It requires insight into how requirements, threats, environment, tactics and technical solutions (i.e., the ship and her systems) together influence effectiveness and cost. Most importantly, this insight must be used to change the warship´s design to improve the capability & effectiveness of the future warship within the bounds of what is affordable and technically & physically feasible. The process of balancing capability and affordability involves generating and analysing many design variants. Hence, it is done best during the early phases of the design and procurement process when the warship´s design is still fluid, and large changes can be accommodated quite easily. Most importantly, properly balancing capability and affordability, i.e., ensuring that future warships will win and will be affordable, requires a coherent design process supported by suitable tools, a field of research that exhibits considerable activity these days. The recent Exploratory Team AVT-ET-132 has investigated the relevant processes and tools used by the participating nations, by sharing and reviewing existing research results. Purposes of this effort were twofold. First, to establish to what extent nations are able to explore trade-offs between operational effectiveness and affordability during early stage warship design & procurement while also taking into account technical and physical feasibility. Second, to establish which of the tools and processes needed to conduct “warship design for operational effectiveness and affordability” exist and which are to be developed. The preliminary conclusions of ET-132 were promising. First, many -but not all- tools are indeed becoming available (they are at various stages of development in national research efforts). Second, ET-132 provided a forum to exchange results that proved to be a catalyst for national developments. Hence, it was deemed beneficial by all participants. ET-132 also showed that both the development of the required tools and their integration in a coherent process were not finished. As importantly, ET-132 identified the need to investigate how to best apply the resulting process and tools in design projects. In conclusion, the objective of exploring trade-offs between operational effectiveness and affordability during early stage warship design & procurement is yet to be achieved fully. This is problematic for NATO in a time when fiscal austerity demands a full and early focus on both the operational effectiveness and affordability of future warships. Hence, a continuation of the effort by ET-132 in a follow-on Research Task Group is necessary.


This RTG will focus on the following objectives: 1. Supporting national developments of an integrated approach for “warship design for operational effectiveness and affordability” by sharing lessons-learnt and results (and tools, if deemed desirable). 2. Performing common test cases (for 2 warship types) to study the impact of modelling techniques and assumptions on results (verification of the integrated approach). 3. Gaining and sharing experience in performing “warship design for operational effectiveness and affordability” via demonstrations and real-life applications. Realising these three objectives will allow participating nations to explore trade-offs between operational effectiveness and affordability during early stage warship design & procurement. Specifically, continuing the successful collaboration of AVT-ET-132 will ensure that these objectives are reached much faster than when nations perform their research individually.


The following topics will be addressed, as they relate to decision-making for early stage warship design: • Modelling of maritime warfare scenarios. • Development / improvement of operational effectiveness models. • Development / improvement of ship synthesis models. • Development / improvement of costing models. • Integration of operational effectiveness models with ship synthesis and costing models. • Development / improvement of tools for exploring trade-offs between operational effectiveness and affordability. • Post-processing and analysis of the output of ship synthesis models, cost models, and operational effectiveness models, for two main purposes. First, to gain insight as to how warship systems and associated technologies, ship performance, tactics, threats and environment interact. Second, to establish how this insight is to be used to support decision-making.

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