Raytheon illustration of U.S. Dept. of Defense RSDN.

Raytheon to Research, Simulate DoD Supply Chain

Dec. 6, 2023
The Pentagon commissioned the first-ever stress test of the defense supply-demand network, combining economic macro-models with microeconomic and process models to track individual decisions and supply-chain operations.

Raytheon BBN, a research and development branch of the defense contractor, reported it has an $8-million award from the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to develop a modeling and simulation tool that to predict disruptions to supply-demand networks, and to develop methods for mitigating disruptions. The Resilient Supply-and-Demand Network (RSDN) will be based on historical and behavioral survey data, and will be the first global supply-chain stress test developed for the U.S. Dept of Defense.

"DARPA has emphasized that supply demand networks are potential sources of strategic surprise for the DoD," stated Raytheon BBN’s principal investigator, John Santini.

DARPA previously established an RSDN program (as opposed to a “supply chain” project) to emphasize that the strategic challenges are more extensive than the logistic challenges of delivering or “supplying” materiel.

"Vulnerabilities stem from the fact that they are open, complex, evolving systems whose dynamics are at the mercy of both external and internal factors—often driven by locally focused decisions,” Santini added. “These decisions often place a priority on cost, timeliness and efficiency with little consideration being made to resiliency."

The Raytheon BBN simulator will evaluate DoD data on supplies of pharmaceuticals, military metals, and military food to realistically simulate conditions in which disruptions have occurred. The simulator will combine economic macro-models of supply-demand networks with microeconomic and process models that Raytheon BBN previously developed in order to model individual decisions and supply-chain operations.

The simulator also will incorporate conclusions from recent advances in artificial intelligence and “dynamical systems analysis” to use simulation models in order to identify network stress factors, and to mitigate stressors not previously considered.

The Raytheon research team will include engineers from The Ohio State University, Clarkson University, and the University of Southern California.

DARPA will evaluate the simulator's success by comparing its predictions against historical scenarios and using subject matter experts to evaluate the plausibility of its predictions and recommendations.

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