Navy Explores Digital Twins for Wargaming Amid Capacity Concerns

The US Navy is exploring digital twin technology for wargaming amid growing concerns about its shipbuilding capacity. 

The Navy has unveiled its revamped Naval Science and Technology Strategy after an internal review exposed that most of its top programs have yearslong delays. Plans to buy fewer ships and retire existing programs received harsh criticism in Congress as the shipbuilding controversy cast a shadow over Sea-Air-Space 2024, the Navy’s largest tradeshow.

Breaking with tradition, the Navy didn’t offer its usual briefings for the press and analysts regarding marquee shipbuilding programs, according to Politico. 

Amid the criticism, the Navy released a roadmap aimed at steering programs in the right direction. In the Navy Science and Technology Strategy summary, Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro emphasizes the need to fast track integration and improve collaboration. 

The roadmap calls for integrating digital twins into wargaming to better explore defense systems before they’re ready for the physical world. 

Digital twins are virtual models that accurately reflect a real-world object, process, system, or services in real-time. Though they’re usually discussed when there’s a tangible counterpart, digital twins can also simulate and analyze designs intended for production. 

According to the roadmap, the Navy will work within FA guidance for “experiments that solve complex Fleet and Force technical problems tied to the Naval Implementation Framework, Navy Force Design, USMC Force Design, and the Commandant’s Planning Guidance.” They’ll adopt an adversarial approach known as “red teaming” to critically assess and challenge the Navy’s tech developments, strategies, and defense mechanisms. 

By tightening the integration between war gaming and technology, Navy officials hope they’re steered in a more efficient direction to keep pace with near-peer competitors like China. 

The roadmap calls for advanced wargaming to test the validity of assumptions and to rapidly roll emerging tech into systems.

The strategy also calls for continuous advancement in artificial intelligence, quantum computing, biotechnology, and autonomous systems. The Pentagon is increasingly moving toward AI-driven testing that can assess as many scenarios as processing power allows. 

Wargaming in military strategy dates back centuries. The modern approach leverages complex simulations incorporating real-world data and scenarios. 

In its report, “Network Digital Twins for 21sts Century Wargaming,” Keysight Technologies defines wargaming as “a set of tools for structured thinking about military problems within a competitive framework.” The presence of the “thinking enemy,” the report says,“ is central to “our doctrinal understanding of war.”

According to, the US Space Force uses digital twin technology for in-orbit wargaming. The Digital Space Twin technology, developed by Slingshot Aerospace, enables personnel to virtually rehearse maneuvers and respond to threats like approaching objects before deployment.

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