For decades, the United States (U.S.) Department of Defense (DoD) has developed, deployed, and operated hundreds of different types of systems as components of systems-of-systems. Achieving and maintaining joint systems-of-systems interoperability as new systems are added is a constant problem. The Army, Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and Air Force each develop requirements, budgets, and acquire, field and operate systems that function as part of joint systems-of-systems. Technology and threats are rapidly evolving. These globally deployed systems and systems-of-systems employed by combatant commanders must be continuously modernized or risk becoming obsolete, resulting in potential mission failure and loss of life. Using a wireless telecommunications interface standard case study, this research developed a unique method of planning systems-of-systems modernization using a system dynamics (SD) approach. This approach: a) accounts for key factors that influence the dynamic behavior of systems-of-systems modernization, impacting the ability to modernize systems-of-systems, and b) enables what-if analysis, and decision-making support of systems-of-systems modernization planning options. This research used a mixed-methods approach to demonstrate that the SD model is measurably superior to past practice. Quantitative statistical analysis was performed on 20 years’ (2001–2020) of data. A qualitative, scenario-based approach was used to develop an SD model. The results demonstrate that engineers, managers, and senior decision makers in the DoD can realize statistically significant gains by using an SD model to develop and explore systems-of-systems modernization planning options. This research’s original contribution to knowledge is the development and validation of an SD model for planning systems-of-systems modernization using a mixed-methods research approach.
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