A year of military simulation highlights

I/ITSEC 2017 in Orlando was remarkable for a number of reasons, not least of which was the advancement of certain key technologies that help to shape the delivery of training to the warfighter.

Operation Blended Warrior (OBW) was notable for the involvement of a number of non-US industry members, but in many ways the real I-LVC event was that conducted by CAE and Rockwell Collins.

This demonstration showed how industry can work together to deliver a robust and workable training solution for the military. Of course, OBW has done that in the past, but previous LVC demonstrations seem to have been more about proving conceptual theories than showcasing a practical way of training.

High-profile developments The CAE/Rockwell Collins effort clearly showed the practical benefits of I-LVC and in doing so, became an important milestone in the evolution of its enabling technologies. Using different databases and computer-generated forces within a four-level cyber-secure environment to depict a coherent and believable scenario, this demonstration showed the military the real benefits of I-LVC.

When combined with the work being undertaken by Cubic Global Defense and the Air Force Research Laboratory on Project SLATE (Secure LVC Advanced Training Environment), and the continuing profile given to I-LVC by OBW, I/ITSEC 2017 may be considered as the launch pad for the meaningful acceleration of capabilities in this area.

The high profile of I-LVC over recent years has led many companies to claim such a capability, but, to quote one middle-ranking USMC officer: ‘Just because we can, should we?’ This highlights the need to weed out the ‘geewhiz’ technologies unless they clearly support the overall training objective.

As well as the technical aspect of I-LVC, the CAE/Rockwell Collins demonstration also highlighted another increasing trend within the industry: collaboration.

Gene Colabatistto, CAE’s group president of defence and security, told MTSN: ‘That collaboration is key to success in our industry, and we continue to look for partnerships where they might benefit both parties.’

Like I-LVC, augmented reality (AR) is being touted as the answer to all our training delivery prayers. Again, this technology is still in its relative infancy, but one demonstration at I/ITSEC showed a practical and, more importantly perhaps, productionised benefit.

Saab Training had been looking at AR for a number of years to enhance its laser-based tactical engagement simulation offering. Initially opting for a HoloLens but finding issues with the robustness of the device in the field, the company has now adopted a tablet or mobile telephone solution.

The We:Are device allows exercise umpires, so-called observer controllers (OCs), to view such things as the effects of artillery fire missions as a virtual overlay on the real-world scene. With We:Are, the OCs can also see virtual map markings and computer-generated assets to assist them in making the correct decision to enhance the reality of the exercise.

In theory then, We:Are is not only an AR tool but also carries out an I-LVC function as well.

For more information on the latest edition of MTSN see here.

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