CREATE program revolutionizes DoD acquisition efforts

Published Sept. 20, 2021
Updated: Sept. 20, 2021
A CREATE-developed simulation of the CH 53K, a heavy Marine helicopter, is shown.

A CREATE-developed simulation of the CH 53K, a heavy Marine helicopter, is shown.

CREATE-developed ground vehicle simulations are shown.

CREATE-developed ground vehicle simulations are shown.

The High Performance Computing Modernization Program’s Computational Research and Engineering Acquisition Tools and Environments (CREATE) program is changing the landscape of Department of Defense (DoD) acquisition efforts. With a mission to produce high-fidelity simulation tools for ships, aircraft, ground vehicles, antenna design and meshing and geometry, the program is leading the charge to provide transformative capabilities to the defense community and currently serves over 2,400 government, industry and academic users.

“In 2007, the Deputy Secretary of Defense for Acquisition put out a call for initiatives that would improve acquisition in the Department of Defense,” said Dr. Scott Morton, a research mechanical engineer at the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) Information Technology Laboratory (ITL) and associate director for CREATE. “There were approximately 60 entries that were culled down to a single project, and that project was the CREATE program.”

Today, CREATE develops and deploys 12 multi-fidelity software products for design, virtual test and analysis. The tools are a vital component of digital transformation – or the adoption of digital technology to improve business process, customer value and innovation – that is happening across all of the services. The products also aid the ERDC mission by supporting major programs like the Future Vertical Lift modernization of Army rotorcraft, modernization of the Army ground vehicle fleet and Army hypersonics efforts. 

“The CREATE development teams come from all three services and includes government civil servants, military members and support contractors,” said Morton. “There is a cadre of ITL and ERDC Geotechnical and Structures Laboratory employees that work on the air vehicles project, the ground vehicles project and in the CREATE program office. Using our software, our subject matter experts have had countless successes, including the $1.5 billion CH-53K program.”

A heavy Marine helicopter, the CH-53K King Stallion, was encountering an engine hot gas-reingestion problem in flight test that was creating loss of performance near the ground. CREATE team members worked to help discover the problem, design a set of fixes, down select to a single fix and then verify the improved performance. The only tool in the world capable of doing this with simulation rather than numerous flight tests is the CREATE Helios virtual rotorcraft simulation tool. Helios was used for all phases of the problem solution, and the fix was later verified in flight test. The Navy estimates time savings of a year and financial savings of $100 million.

“Our products are production quality, multi-disciplinary tools that are developed from requirements across the services and validated using services test data, making them more applicable than tools in the commercial realm that are developed for other industries and used for DoD problems,” said Morton. “We also have a customer support structure that allows very quick response to user issues encountered when using our tools on their problems.”

As associate director, Morton is responsible for delivering products to stakeholders and users, while also setting program goals and advocating for future software development to meet new initiatives like hypersonics, and air land and sea weapon system modernization. Winner of the 2021 ERDC Research of the Year award, he has also served as product principal developer of the CREATE Kestrel product and as the air vehicles project manager, allowing him to see the program from multiple avenues.