John Illgen

Inducted October 2023


In recognition of John Illgen for his national and international leadership and contributions across a broad spectrum of technical modeling and simulation (M&S) domains.

As a pioneer of the M&S systems acquisition process, Mr. Illgen developed and applied M&S to defense, civil, and commercial communities. His utilization of open-ended software architecture for integration and interoperation of M&S profoundly influenced distributed applications, particularly in live, virtual, and constructive (LVC) simulations. Mr. Illgen’s leadership and ingenuity in network-enabled systems, communications, architectures, information systems, threat evaluations, command and control, sensors, and weapons systems have greatly shaped M&S applications across various industries, organizations, and the Department of Defense.

Mr. Illgen’s lifetime contributions revolutionized the way M&S is employed and positioned it at the forefront of the acquisition process. His contributions have left a lasting imprint on the development, advancement, and integration of M&S.


John Illgen graduated from the Royal Technical University of Denmark in 1967 with the equivalent of a master’s degree in electrical engineering. He has continued to pursue education throughout his career, graduating from the Stanford University/AEA Business Management Program in 1985, and he received certification from the University of Virginia’s Darden Graduate School of Business Administration in 2004.

Since becoming an active member of the modeling and simulation (M&S) community, Mr. Illgen has built a reputation, both nationally and internationally, for his experience and leadership in a variety of M&S technical domains. He has led and worked on several panels and committees that promote the application of M&S, cybersecurity and telecommunications – among other disciplines – directly related to national defense. In doing so, he has become recognized by his peers as a pioneer in establishing M&S in the defense system acquisition process. He has received several awards and commendations acknowledging the numerous contributions he has made for over half a century.

Mr. Illgen founded Illgen Simulation Technologies, Inc. (ISTI) in 1988 and became its CEO and chairman of the board for 15 years. While leading ISTI, Mr. Illgen pioneered “open ended architecture” with internet and web technologies that led to integration and interoperation of distributed simulations and systems. Northrup Grumman acquired ISTI in 2003, and Mr. Illgen has since become managing director.

More recently, Mr. Illgen has focused his M&S background on concept-of-operations training, ISR, live/virtual/constructive simulations and cybersecurity. Since joining Northrup Grumman, he has affected a paradigm shift that has convinced its CEO to include M&S in all business operations and development, and Mr. Illgen has promoted model-based acquisition, giving M&S greater prominence and consideration in the process.