ITEC 2014: Second Thales A400M simulator for RAFThales announced during ITEC 2014 in Köln that the Royal Air Force has awarded it a multi-million pound contract for a second full-flight simulator for the A400M military airlifter. It follows earlier contracts for full flight simulators for the aircraft from France, Germany and Spain as well as the United Kingdom. The simulator features Thales’ own state-of-the-art visual systems and motion technology with six degrees of freedom, replicating the current production configuration of the aircraft cockpit and simulating both flight and ground operations in a wide variety of tactical scenarios and geographical environments. The enhanced visual display system offers significant flexibility for training planners, supporting training in all flight envelopes, including air-to-air refuelling and low-level tactical operations. Instructor stations in the simulator and in the ground station, coupled with a record and replay system, provide for rapid briefing and after action review debriefings. To be installed at the RAF’s training school at Brize Norton, the two simulators will be managed, from a support and maintenance perspective, by A400M Training Services Ltd., a joint venture between Thales and Airbus Defence & Space. The company delivered the training school to the RAF in March 2014.
ITEC 2014: RUAG major on German awardAlthough without any ‘breaking news’ to impart at ITEC 2014 in Köln, RUAG Defence highlighted its recent success in Germany – in particular the award of a contract for a Counter-Improvised Electronic Device (C-IED) simulation system for the Bundeswehr. The system will be deployed at the GüZ Combat Manoeuvre Training Centre of the German Army at Altmark, the largest live simulation facility in Germany. The contract was won against fierce competition for an effective C-IED system, which is an important component of the systematic improvement and enhancement of training systems as a result of lessons learned from operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. IEDs remain a significant terrorist ‘weapon of choice’ and are not necessarily limited to the expeditionary warfare scenarios that have dominated small unit training in the last decade. Using best practice to ensure effective C-IED training for combat troops will, therefore, remain high on the requirements list of many nations, not just Germany, in most training scenarios for future operations. For this reason, RUAG is intent on celebrating the success of its solution and using the GüZ installation – the Centre has a strong reputation worldwide for being an effective and integrated training solution – as a ‘foot in the door’ reference point to put in front of the many other customers that may have imminent requirements for such a system. The RUAG solution features components that address both the early identification of IEDs and the appropriate post-detonation behaviour to ensure adequate forensic and analytical processes can be implemented to identify the device origin and disrupt the event chain for possible future devices. Visual and audio simulations ensure a realistic training environment for students, engaging all the senses and thus enhancing the all-important situational awareness of the affected individual.
ITEC 2014: Rheinmetall Leopard 2 simulators for IndonesiaBy 2015 Rheinmetall will have delivered both a driving simulator and a gunnery simulator for the Leopard 2 main battle tank for delivery to the Indonesian Army, the contract for which is worth several million Euros, according to the company announcement at ITEC 2014 in Köln. The success in Indonesia follows the company’s provision of 18 gunnery simulators and two driver trainer simulators for the Canadian Army, again for Leopard 2, which have been up and running since March of this year. The Leopard Gunnery Skills Trainer (LGST) and the Driver Training Simulator (DTS) are both specifically configured for the Leopard 2A4 as operated by the Indonesian Army and will be used for training the entire crew as well as sharpening the skillsets of the individual users. A major feature of both systems is the use of Rheinmetall’s highly advanced TacSi technology and the incorporation of serious games engines in the visualisation systems for both simulators, thus ensuring the highest possible level of fidelity and providing for highly effective training and sustainable learning.
A Goddess’ work is never doneMinerva is the Roman goddess of wisdom, supporter of war (in good causes) and sponsor of arts, trade and strategy. With such a broad job description and a somewhat philosophical approach to the things she was responsible for, it is perhaps surprising she has found time to lend her name to the latest Immersive Training Service (ITS) from Selex ES. On learning a little more about Minerva, however (the ITS, not the goddess) the surprise lessens. Minerva is a simulated immersive environment based on three principal pillars – high end technological capabilities, psychological and cognitive methodologies and a total service approach. Nicola Toniazzi, Project Manager for the Platforms Business Area of the Selex ES Airborne and Space Systems Division, explained during a briefing at ITEC in Köln this week that Minerva “offers effective training in a cooperative environment, incorporating hardware and software entirely at the customer’s discretion,” thus ensuring flexibility and potentially wide customer appeal. That appeal may well be further stimulated by the intriguing approach Selex has taken in the development of a customer-specific solution. The secret of Minerva’s potential success will lie as much in the process of development as the responsive nature of the technological capabilities. After a detailed training needs analysis (TNA) conducted in close consultation with the customer, the Selex development team then sits down with a team of psychologists and human factors engineers to inject subtle but powerful behaviours into the virtual environment. Reaction to ambient noise, the effect of seeing casualties occurring before the trainee’s eyes, the visceral ‘feel’ of a combat situation, all of these are incorporated into the Minerva ITS using techniques developed in collaboration with the University of Milan. The net result is to accelerate and strengthen the learning experience for trainees, using elements that affect the psychological condition of the user before, during and after the training session. In addition to the considerable work put in at the design and implementation stage, Selex offers customers a performance-based service in which the company and the user work in concert to design a more effective training pipeline and to provide trainees with tools that will benefit them in learning how to deal with complex situation – some parameters of which are almost impossible to achieve in live training scenarios. The modelling of behaviour for the systems’ computer generated forces – there must be a significant challenge in trying to integrate a similarly wide variety of infinitely variable behavioural characteristics into synthetic entities – is being conducted with a series of experimental algorithms developed by the University of Genoa – although Toniazzi admits that this work is currently in its infancy. The other components of Minerva are fairly traditional, including facilities to support effective debfriefing and after action review functions immediately following a training session. The company has put a lot of thought into the types of training that would derive most benefit from deploying Minerva and Toniazzi provided a few examples, while stressing this was not an exhaustive list. U”UAS pilots and operators, rotary wing aircraft crew, Joint Fire Support teams, Forward Air Controllers and Joint Terminal Attack Controllers are all areas that would be particularly suitable for this type of solution,” he said. He also revealed that the initial customer for Minerva is already in discussions with the company and that a definitive requirement is even now being shaped. Minerva will sit comfortably, in addition, in the growing area of common interest between military and civil/emergency management training requirements. One area highlighted by Toniazzi in his briefing was firefighting, in which early discussions with a potential customer are already being held.
An Alliance approach to C4I Simulation….The words ‘joint,’ ‘collaborative’ and ‘multinational’ apply in our industry not just to the manner in which the military community increasingly prefers to train, but also to the approach adopted by industry in developing fresh and innovative methods of gaining and maintaining market share. At ITEC 2014 in Köln this week, two companies from opposite sides of the globe have brought their products, expertise and executive teams together in a consortium approach to ‘joined-up’ simulation.
Ryan Aerospace, a company from Australia’s Gold Coast with a heritage of providing powerful but cost-effective COTS-based helicopter crew trainers and Rebel Alliance from Florence in Italy, whose expertise focuses on C4I systems, have joined forces to offer a “turn-key. Low cost solution to a complex and high value problem; mission rehearsal and support [for] operations in a combined arms training environment….achieved using state of the art simulation and C4I software, according to a release from the companies.
Showcasing their solution on adjoining booths at ITEC, the companies will demonstrate a COTS helicopter simulator platform incorporating virtual reality goggles and sensors, complemented by a rear door-gunner system and a deployable dismounted soldier operating in the virtual world with Safe Strike, a real world battlefield management system.
Configurable ‘on the fly’ to emulate a wide variety of attack or utility helicopters, the helicopter simulator offers flexibility of use in all aspects of the training operation, including the capability to use almost any simulation engine – Bohemia Interactive’s VBS2 and VBS3 as well as the Havok engine being among the most prevalent. This means the new trainer can be made compatible (and therefore interoperable) with existing legacy training systems in customer inventory and operation.
Incorporating the two companies’ systems into a cohesive solution has not meant an ungainly sprawl of bolted together systems, either. The fully integrated solution has a footprint of less than one square, making it easily transportable and deployable. The real value of this approach, however, lies in the application to mission rehearsal and preparation – the Holy Grail for many simulation users at the moment – in an intuitive, low-impact and cost-effective manner.
Ryan Aerospace’s helicopter crew trainers have enjoyed a growing reputation for effective solution provision for some time now. Combining this expertise with the Rebel Alliance first hand combat experience as applied to modern battlefield management requirements has resulted in an innovative, intriguing and intelligent approach to one of the fundamental problems facing planners today – how to provide cost-effective training across the broad spectrum of disciplines that characterise likely future operations, from low-intensity conflict to small unit operations on a network-centric battlefield.