The DoD’s Bold New Digital Engineering Directive: 5000.97

In late December 2023, the U.S. Department of Defense established a policy framework regarding digital engineering in the development and sustainment of defense systems.

DoD Instruction 5000.97, issued on December 21, 2023, represents a significant shift in the DoD’s approach to system development, favoring a model-based approach rather than documents.

The instructions supersede 2007’s Modeling and Simulation Management Directive.

According to the directive:

New programs must incorporate digital engineering, while existing programs should do so as much as possible.

Detailed digital models should be the primary means of communicating system info.

Program managers must consider the practicality and benefits of digital engineering and include digital models and data as contract deliverables, use existing DoD digital engineering resources, and leverage Major Range Test Facility Base digital engineering capabilities.

The digital engineering framework consists of a digital engineering ecosystem, digital models, digital twins, digital threads, and digital artifacts.

The digital framework connects all phases of the system lifecycle and ensures the development of technically accurate digital systems and twins.

In a summary document issued with the directive, the DoD said: “Data management should adhere to DoD Data Strategy goals – make data visible, accessible, linked, trustworthy, interoperable, and secure.”

Tim Weilkiens, an MBSE expert, praised the DoD’s forward-looking approach to digital engineering in a LinkedIn post.

“I think it would also do Europe good to move more in this direction,” he wrote. “At least in Germany, I don’t see the topic gaining momentum yet, but I’m happy to be convinced otherwise.”

Read DoD Instruction 5000.97