The Simulation, Test and Evaluation Process (STEP) has been proposed in DoD guidance of the recent past and is still a valid concept. In STEP, simulation and test are integrated, each depending on the other to be effective and efficient. Simulations provide predictions of the system’s performance and effectiveness, while tests are part of a strategy to provide information regarding risk and risk mitigation, to provide empirical data to validate models and simulations, and to determine whether systems are operationally effective, suitable, and survivable for intended use. [1]
STEP is driven by mission and system requirements. The product of STEP is information. The information supports acquisition program decisions regarding technical risk, performance, system maturity, operational effectiveness, suitability, and survivability. STEP applies to all acquisition programs, especially Major Defense Acquisition Programs (MDAPs) and Major Automated Information Systems (MAISs). [1]

Throughout STEP, tests are conducted to collect data for evaluating the system and refining and validating models. Through the model-test-model iterative approach, the sets of models mature, culminating in accurate representations of the system with appropriate fidelity, which can be used to predict system performance and to support the acquisition and potentially the training communities. [1]

Step 1
STEP begins with the Mission Needs Analysis and continues through the life cycle. Top-level requirements are used to develop alternative concepts and select/develop digital models that are used to evaluate theater/campaign and mission-/battle-level simulations. Mission-/battlelevel models are used to evaluate the ability of a multiple platform force package to perform a specific mission. Mission and functional requirements continue to be refined, and the system reaches the preliminary design stage. [1]

Step 2
M&S is used both as a predictive tool and with test in an iterative process to evaluate the system design. The consequences of design changes are evaluated and help translate the most promising design approach into a stable, interoperable, and cost effective design. [1]

Step 3
System components and subsystems are tested in a laboratory environment. Data from this hardware are employed in the model-test-model process. M&S is used in the planning of tests to support a more efficient use of resources. Simulated tests can be run on virtual ranges to conduct rehearsals and determine if test limitations can be resolved. STEP tools are used to provide data for determining the real component or subsystem’s performance and interaction with other components. M&S is used during both Development Testing (DT) and Operational Testing (OT) to increase the amount of data and supplement the live test events that are needed to meet test objectives. [1]

Step 4
Periodically throughout the acquisition process the current version of the system under development should be reexamined in a synthetic operational context to reassess its military worth. This is one of the significant aspects of STEP, understanding the answer to the question: What difference does this change make in the system’s performance? [1]

Step 5
STEP does not end with fielding and deployment of a system, but continues to the end of the system’s life cycle. STEP results in a thoroughly tested system with performance and suitability risks identified. A byproduct is a set of models and simulations with a known degree of credibility with the potential for reuse in other efforts. New test data can be applied to models to incorporate any system enhancements and further validate its models.[1]

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