Complexity Engineering Uncategorized

On-board Battle Damage Assessment

Military operations aim to inflict damages on opposing forces and, unfortunately, sometimes entail suffering some damages in return. Either way, a reliable evaluation of the damages is needed, so battle damage assessment is one of the key capabilities for every armed force.

The complexity of a system – regardless it is a platform, an IT network, a defence line or an entire military organization – is greatly influenced by the inflicted damages. This particular sensitivity makes complexity measurement through the Quantitative Complexity Management (QCM) technology an ideal method for a rational, rapid and reliable damage evaluation.

Three scopes of battle damage assessment can be identified:

  1. Before the mission: what/where to hit?
  2. During the mission: how serious is the damage I have received?
  3. After the mission: how large is the damage inflicted on the opponent?

The first and the last tasks above can be performed in a relatively simple way, presumably at headquarters, respectively during mission planning and post-mission assessment phases. Conversely, item 2 is a highly critical issue, which implies life and death decisions to be taken in very short reaction times at platform level: I have been hit, how serious is the damage I have received? What is the right course of action to undertake?

Items 1 and 3 are interesting applications that certainly get decisive benefits from QCM support and deserve to be studied in detail separately. However, the application of QCM to item 2 is a real game-changer, given the criticality of the decisions to undertake and the short time available. The rest of this blog will focus on this subject: the assessment of one’s own battle damages.

The example that follows is referred to an airborne platform, yet the concept is applicable to any military system.

The battle damages suffered can be roughly rated as follows, according to their seriousness, in order to support the final authority of the pilot in making the right decisions:

  1. Minor damage. Recommendation: continue mission with caution.
  2. Significant damage. Recommendation: abort mission and return.
  3. Substantial damage. Recommendation: emergency landing.
  4. Critical damage. Recommendation: eject.

In order to improve the accuracy of the assessment, the monitored sensors are classified in the configuration of the QCM system in two categories: those relevant to flight-critical sub-systems and those relevant to mission-critical equipment.

The capability of assessing the overall condition of a damaged aircraft in a split second is intrinsically available on the platforms equipped by a complexity monitoring system based on Artificial Intuition, such as Ontonix CAHMS, which provides – along with all its basic features – this additional, yet major, powerful tool.

Consider the following example. A turbine engine running at steady state (cruise).

Complexity is 124.54. The nominal Complexity Map is shown below.


Suppose the engine has been damaged but still seems to function properly. The Complexity Map is shown below. Complexity is now 117.4.


Spotting the differences by compring the maps visually may prove somewhat difficult! However, based on the pre and post-damage complexity values we can state that the overall degree of damage is (124.54-117.4)/124.54 = 0.057, or 5.7%. In other words, the engine, in global terms, retains 94.3% of its nominal functionality.

In this case, the CAHMS issues the following message (see bottom of screen) and recommendation: CONTINUE MISSION

In the case of more severe/systemic damage, reported below complexity is 46.8.

Critically Damaged

This leads to an overall level of damage of (124.54-46.8)/124.54 = 0.62, or 62%. In this circumstance the CAHMS recommends to EJECT.

It is important to remark that the above Complexity Maps are never seen by a pilot or operator. They are used internally by the QCM algorithm.

By Mario de Lucia.

Established originally in 2005 in the USA, Ontonix is a technology company headquartered in Como, Italy. The unusual technology and solutions developed by Ontonix focus on countering what most threatens safety, advanced products, critical infrastructures, or IT network security - the rapid growth of complexity. In 2007 the company received recognition by being selected as Gartner's Cool Vendor. What makes Ontonix different from all those companies and research centers who claim to manage complexity is that we have a complexity metric. This means that we MEASURE complexity. We detect anomalies in complex defense systems without using Machine Learning for one very good reason: our clients don’t have the luxury of multiple examples of failures necessary to teach software to recognize them. We identify anomalies without having seen them before. Sometimes, you must get it right the first and only time!

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