Tag Archives: training

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.

Stimulating simulation and tantalising training at I/ITSEC 2017

The simulation and training industry’s annual showcase, I/ITSEC, always proves to be a great show for the Shephard team. We are happy to admit that the event does not bring hard-hitting news every year but there is still plenty of updates, opinions and new products for the team to cover and here we’ve selected some of our top stories and videos from the week for you to cast your eyes over.

For the first time this year we saw a fast boat simulator amongst the aircraft trainers and virtual reality kit.

Meanwhile, one of the US Air Force’s most lucrative training programmes, the TX Advanced Pilot Training Programme, continued to see the three main competitors, Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Leonardo DRS, fight it out.

As part of the TX programme UK company, EDM, showcased a Martin-Baker Mk18 ejection seat. The company is offering training Mk18 seats for the US Air Force’s T-X programme ground based training system element.

Back on the ground, Pratt & Miller Defense debuted the newest addition to its Trackless Moving Targets (TMT) family with a solution that replicates infantry forces moving on the battlefield. The TMT-Infantry variant is currently being funded by the US Army’s PEO STRI office through a Rapid Innovation Fund.

Finally, the show brought a new element to its annual live, virtual and constructive exercise, Operation Blended Warrior, with various international partners, mainly Swedish companies, taking part in the exercise for the first time. 

As always you can catch up on the news at the Shephard Media website and we’ll see you in Orlando for I/ITSEC 2018!

 

It’s beginning to look a lot like I/ITSEC

It’s that time of year again and no I’m not taking about Christmas! The Shephard team will be embarking on the annual jaunt to the sunshine state for military simulation and training’s biggest event, I/ITSEC.

Even though the show starts on Monday we have been giving you an early look at the news and what to expect at this year’s show.

Some of the major projects that we’ll be keeping an eye on include the US Air Force’s T-X programme, the Combat Rescue Helicopter (CRH) Program, TH-57 replacement, C-17 aircrew training system (ATS) requirement, Air Commando Training System and the USAF SCARS project, to name but a few.

The T-X programme has provided us with some twists and turns with Raytheon and Leonardo having decided they will no longer jointly bid on the programme while BAE Systems and Northrop Grumman pulled out altogether. Leonardo continues to pursue the programme with it’s T-100, Boeing has teamed with Saab and Lockheed Martin still in the race.

Meanwhile on the helicopter side of things the CHR programme continues to move forward as it proceeds to assembly, test, and evaluation of the Sikorsky HH-60W helicopter’s training systems.

The C-17 ATS is also opening doors for industry to re-bid for the solution which is currently supplied to the US Air Force, currently held by Link Simulation & Training which was awarded the contract in 2011.

https://assets.shephardmedia.com/live/default/media/cache/images/images/article/LMCO/973c39407fd2c9c24bc1626f20d9a1d5.jpg

As well as the big programmes we will be bringing you the latest tech news from image generation to projection technologies.

New players are also set to enter the market such as FoxGuard Solutions, best known for its industrial computing capabilities, which is dipping its toe into the military simulation and training market.

For all the news from I/ISEC make sure you follow the team on twitter @ShephardNews and bookmark the dedicated I/ITSEC show news site.

It’s all go at the show

In the week that was, we saw the UK’s then prime minister open proceedings at the Farnborough International Airshow (FIA 2016) only to then be replaced two days later by Theresa May. Also, Pokémon Go happened (!).

Monday got off to a flying start with an array of airborne announcements. In total 59 aircraft are to be delivered by Boeing to the UK.

The company confirmed that it was now on contract for 50 AH-64E Apaches for the British Army. In addition, the UK MoD is also to receive nine P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) from Boeing.

Rain stopped play on Monday afternoon. Panic only really set in at the media centre when the wi-fi went down and then the journalists got up and ran for the station navigating through the British summer time monsoon that descended. Here at Shephard we were highly amused by all the weather-related puns.

Monday

Leonardo added two more international customers to its Falco Evo Shephard learnt at FIA 2016. The new customers currently operate the legacy Falco UAS.

In other UAS news, the Fury guided munition, jointly developed by Textron Systems and Thales UK, will undergo final moving target testing later this year. The Fury is designed to be utilised by small and medium sized UAS and special missions aircraft.

In training news, a second team announced that they would be putting their hat into the ring for the UK MoD’s Air Support to Defence Operational Training (ASDOT) programme. ASDOT considers the UK’s live air training activities and airborne threat training.

For the #avgeek  the F-35 Lightning tearing up the airshow sky was an exciting and LOUD affair throughout the week. Raytheon was vocal about its involvement with the aircraft as suppliers of weapons systems to the platform.

Raytheon were also host to one of the most engaging and firey presentations at FAI 2016. Air Cdre Dean Andrew, ISTAR force commander on the Sentinel R1, talked passionately to journalists at FIA 2016 in an effort to lobby ‘anyone that would listen’ regarding cuts to his force announced in the Strategic Defence and Security Review in 2015. Journalists could not believe their luck with Andrew’s candor and repeatedly asked ‘you know you’re on record right?’.

It was a great show for rotorcraft as Sikorsky’s armed Black Hawk made its debut at the show. The company revealed that it was working closely with a customer but would not divulge their name, more the pity. The weapon system is anticipated to be qualified by the end of this year. Leonardo Helicopters also debuted their armed version of the AW149.

Bell Helicopter paid tribute to their crew members who lost their lives on 6 July during a test flight of the 525 Relentless.

Company officials were seen wearing ‘R’ badges in memory of the 525 Relentless crew. The V-280 mockup made its international debut at FIA 2016 and also the company appointed RUAG Aviation in Switzerland as its newest customer service facility for the Bell 429.

v-280 cropped

FIA 2016 proved to be an eventful show with contracts signed, aircraft debuting and tropical weather storms adding to the mix. Shephard covered a whole host of topics so be sure to check out our dedicated news page.

shephard-team

 

Practice makes perfect

For this quick blog we ask a nice theoretical question, inspired by a recent UK government statement that said, among other things that ‘the UK also intends to look at options for a permanent training facility’ in the Sultanate of Oman.

So then, were it to be set up, where would a permanent UK training facility in Oman be based?

Anchoring itself on the end of the Arabian Peninsula, the sultanate offers immense open spaces and challenging terrain in which to operate. As has been mentioned in the news recently, the UK exercises regularly in the country and with its armed forces.

There is also permanent in-country presence too, with the RAF’s 902 EAW now based at RAFO Musannah in support of Operation Kipion, having recently moved there from a previous (officially) undisclosed location.

For ease of compilation, the suggestions are based on the idea that any permanent training unit would be focused on land forces. There are already permanent overseas British Army training areas in Canada, Kenya and Brunei; maybe the idea will be to find a hot and sandy spot?

 

Oman1.jpg

 

Musannah

Close to the capital, it is in this area that the new RAFO airbase was constructed. On the one side are the rising peaks of the Hajar Mountains and Jebel Shams, while on the other floods plains lead out to the sea. There is the added bonus that the main naval base is just down the road. The downside is that it isn’t that remote, so large movements of personnel and equipment would be obvious to see.

 

Dhofar

It was in this southernmost province that the Battle of Mirbat was fought in 1972 and the southern focus during Exercise Saif Sareea II in 2001. The coast is mountainous, an environment already suggested as a focal point for training exercises between UK and Omani forces. Inland, the wide-open plateau leads into the Empty Quarter and room to manoeuvre. RAFO’s Thumrait airbase could function as a crucial nearby component in any air bridge.

 

Al Wusta

Perhaps a long shot, in as much as these are all guesses for something that may or may not happen, but all the ingredients are present in this province. The ever-expanding commercial drydock at Duqm will soon have a military capability following an announcement between Babcock and Oman Drydock Company, while a new local airport has recently been built. Similar to Dhofar with open space to spare, it lacks the variety of environments that other areas have.

 

Shatti Beach

But if I was the one who had to pick the location for any permanent UK (land) training facility, I’d suggest a certain terrace somewhere a little more civil…

Plaza.jpg

Top 5 videos of I/ITSEC 2015

Last week the Shephard team packed our bags and set out to sunny Florida for this year’s I/ITSEC show in Orlando. I/ITSEC is one of the biggest training and simulation shows on the exhibition calendar, attended by the great and good of the T&S community.

And with Shephard expanding our portfolio to now include the venerable Military Training and Simulation News title, it was only natural that we went to Orlando with what equated to a mini-Shephard army. For the week, I was responsible for video and here’s a selection of some of the best.

  1. Lifelike robots for the US Marines

I interviewed the US Marine Corps’ main man for training and simulation, PM Training Systems Col Walt Yates, about how the service was adopting new technologies for training. The marines were clearly taking inspiration from Disney World (just a few miles from the convention centre) by using animatronics at its training centres.

One example, which sprang to life and starting conversing and gesticulating at whoever was stood in front, was on display at I/ITSEC. See the full video here:

Robot

2. A peek inside the future of vertical lift

Shephard was fortunate to get a look behind the metaphorical (and literal) curtain to gaze into the future of helicopters at I/ITSEC. We were invited to film Tru Simulation + Training’s new V-280 simulator, which it is developing with Textron sister company Bell Helicopter as part of the development of next-generation tilt-rotor aircraft.

Bell’s Steven Kihara, a former army pilot who is now responsible for testing the V-280’s flight envelopes, showed what the aircraft was capable of, including impressive rates of climb and landing manoeuvres unheard of in conventional helicopters.

So realistic was the simulation that this reporter felt a bit queasy at the end. Looking a little worse for wear, one company representative even offered me a seat and a glass of water.

Bell V-280

3. Patriot missile training for the X-Box generation

X-box controllers, Oculus Rift, super detailed characters, surely this is the next version of Battlefield or Call of Duty? In fact it’s a ‘serious game’ developed by Raytheon to teach young soldiers how to use the Patriot Missile System (PAC-3).

Raytheon showed us what soldiers can achieve through ‘playing’ the game, including working as a team (multiplayer) on reloading a missile system. The company is even working on increasing the realism of the game by introducing female avatars, with Raytheon engineer Mercedes providing the motions for facial recognition software.

This story also spawned what is quite possibly the best headline of the year (no bias there at all).

Raytheon Patriot Trainer

4. Robot cars improve sharpshooter training

We cover unmanned vehicles a lot, especially their growing use in the ground domain as surveillance or load-carrying assets. But this is the first time this reporter saw an unmanned ground vehicle being used as a training aid for army sharpshooters.

Pratt & Miller, probably best known for their race cars, developed AVeTar with funding from the US Army and is now looking to commercialise the robot targets. The idea behind the technology is that it creates a more realistic target for snipers, compared with predictable, rail-based targets used today.

UGV target

5. Births and bleeding on a C-130 trainer

There are some things you see in life and you’re genuinely lost for words, seeing a lifelike pregnant mannequin give birth to a little mannequin baby (complete with umbilical cord and placenta) is one of them. This surreal scene unfolded on the stand of CAE, a Canadian training and simulation company that was highlighting its hyper-realistic C-130 aeromedical trainer.

The other ‘patients’ on the trainer included a man that had suffered a nasty looking leg wound (with added blood spurting), he could scream and also simulate breathing. Other aircraft-specific scenarios can be simulated including loss of pressure or smoke in the cabin.

Births and bleeding

6. An added extra…

Ok, I said it would be five videos but as an added bonus, we recorded a helpful round-up video of the show with Trevor Nash, editor of Military Training and Simulation News. Trevor, a training and simulation industry veteran, runs through all the show key events and does a much better job of summarising the show than I could, so over to you Trevor:

Trevor round up

All the Shephard stories and videos from I/ITSEC 2015 can be viewed here: https://www.shephardmedia.com/show-news/iitsec-2015/

 

 

Testing, testing 1 2 3

Some of the coolest kit in the defence industry can be found in the simulation and training sector. Surely you don’t have to be an aviation geek to want a go in a 360-degree fully immersive flight dome? Or try your hand fighting in a mock-up village with all the bystanders, smoke and sound effects, vehicles and the latest imitation guns and sensors to track your skills as you go?

Of coSelex flight simurse, what you really require to get involved in all this is membership of an elite army unit, but that doesn’t stop the majority of the systems used being accessible at the very top end of the civilian gaming and commercial world. For example, the hydraulics used to simulate aircraft and armoured vehicle motions are also found on the Formula One games used to train drivers and entertain fans at events.

Whereby a home-made simulator comprising of three computer screens, some pedals and a steering wheel or joystick might be the staple of the flight gaming enthusiast, the same basic set-up is used for training future pilots, ship captains and ground vehicle drivers from all armed forces – albeit with much more complex controls and graphics capabilities. Belgian firm Barco build the RP-360 Dome which fuses projected images together on the sphere’s reverse so that the user inside has a seamless visual experience in every direction they choose to ‘fly’.

There are a whole host of companies specialising in creating the software (3D worlds and mission planning) and hardware (dashboards, interiors and interfaces) needed in order to make the experience as realistic as possible. At Farnborough we sampled the latest Selex ES helicopter simulator, and promptly crashed it, but the sensation was impressive until then.

Even parachutists can train without leaving the indoors, with huge vertical wind tunnels being available for practicing in-flight manoeuvres, and virtual reality goggles paired with a suspended harnesses simulate landing procedures. Civilians can head to Milton Keynes for a similar flight experience and have their own indoor skydiving lessons.

When it comes to safety drills, aircraft crew members are required to attend ‘sea ditch survival’ sessions in which a helicopter hull is dropped into an ocean wave pool and a swift exit is practiced.

The issue here is that although this uses life size mock ups, such training has been criticised for lacking realism – the escape windows too large to be challenging, the water too mild to represent the North Sea. However, improvements in offshore safety are in the pipeline within the industry.

The real news at Farnborough regarding simulation involved merging simulation technologies and reality. Head up displays (HUDs) or helmet mounted displays (HMDs) have been produced by companies such as BAE Systems and Rockwell Collins which project camera images from around an aircraft and superimpose them onto a helmet visor, allowing pilots to access more information than ever right in front of their eyes and to basically look through the floor in order to sniff out a target.

The chief test pilot of the F-35 Lightning II assured us that the helmet had been very popular with the 100+ pilots who’d tried it so far. And we didn’t hear of any of them crashing whilst wearing it.