Meggitt Training Systems, Inc., headquartered in Suwanee, Georgia, is a leader for training systems used by military, law enforcement and commercial ranges around the world. The ability to provide a comprehensive solution that includes both simulation and live fire enables soldiers or law enforcement officers to learn the fundamentals of weapon handling and marksmanship, then continue all the way to live-fire training in urban operations shoot houses.
The genesis of Meggitt Training Systems can be traced back more than nine decades to the founding of Caswell International. It invented the world’s first target system in 1926; the world’s first bullet trap in 1935; the world’s first rubber bullet trap in 1989 and the world’s first wireless 360-degree target retrieval system in 2011. Caswell was purchased by Meggitt PLC in 2003 and became Meggitt Defence Systems Caswell. This was soon followed by the 2006 acquisition of Fire Arms Training Systems (FATS®) and the two companies were merged to form Meggitt Training Systems.
Meggitt’s live-fire ranges are engineered for dependability and longevity to provide the user a lower cost of ownership. In fact, some Stationary Infantry Targets (SITs) installed on ranges more than 20 years ago have never been brought in for service and remain in operation. In addition to the SITs, the Moving Infantry Target (MIT) is available, as well as Stationary Armour Targets (SATs) and Moving Armour Targets (MATs) to provide a complete suite of small arms and armour target configurations. The targets can be configured in multiple power options for AC or DC electricity and hardwired Ethernet, serial or wireless Wi-Fi or VHF/UHF radio controls. Combined with the RangeMaster™ range controller, the operator has flexibility to set up fixed position ranges or deploy to remote training locations. Jonathan Read, Meggitt’s director of live-fire systems, confirmed the company, “has many international customers who frequently deploy their target system to use while conducting joint training exercises.”
Meggitt provides target systems for multiple US military bases in Europe with its largest presence at Grafenwoehr, Germany for the 7th Army Training Command. Installations include infantry, armour and military operations in urban terrain (MOUT) targets. The 7th ATC also supports training operations in Vicenza, Italy, including joint exercises in Slovenia using deployable target systems from Meggitt. The UK MOD trains with Canada on the British Army Training Unit Suffield (BATUS) training area. This training area covers approximately 2,700 square kilometers, making for a challenging environment. Meggitt’s infantry, armor and MOUT targets are deployed on the ranges in varying configurations to provide a realistic training experience without the predictability of stationary target installations.
Meggitt Training Systems has installed over 13,600 military and law enforcement ranges worldwide. The target systems can withstand any environmental challenge, from the winters with -40 C temperatures in Alaska, the heat and humidity of Malaysia, or extreme conditions in the deserts of the Middle East.
In 1984, FATS was the first company in the world to produce interactive firearms training simulators for law enforcement and military markets. Fast forward to today and Meggitt Training Systems’ FATS line of products continue to grow and innovate in the virtual training market. Its state-of-the-art FATS 100MIL brings the most advanced small-arms training technology to allied defence forces. The FATS 100P provides portable simulation training that’s easy to transport, set up and operate. The new FATS 300 immersive training system delivers 300-degree, five-screen technology for marksmanship, judgmental and collective instruction. And the FATS 180 offers the same high-quality immersive training as the FATS 300, but in a smaller three-screen footprint.
This technology pays lifesaving dividends, helping military personnel and law enforcement officers remain composed and responsive in the most stressful situations. This attributable, measurable training provides definitive conditioning and readiness prior to facing hostile conditions.
FATS military simulation trainers are the system of record for the US Army, US Marine Corps (USMC), United Kingdom Ministry of Defence (UKMOD), US National Guard, US Air Force (USAF), Australian Defence Force, Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), Singapore Army and the Singapore Police Coast Guard with more than 5,100 virtual systems installed worldwide.
Meggitt was the first company to introduce the patented BlueFire® weapon simulators, utilizing wireless technology to communicate with FATS system hardware, while maintaining accurate weight, balance, recoil and real-time diagnostics. The company has over 300 BlueFire weapon variations in use today, ensuring realistic weapon usage for combat situations.
FATS virtual law enforcement systems provide both marksmanship and judgmental training modes for multi-tiered instruction. Law enforcement, police, paramilitary and security forces around the world depend on Meggitt for realistic training systems. Less lethal options, de-escalation of force, proper interaction and verbal commands, and a library of video scenarios that branch provide an almost limitless curriculum of training scenarios and options.
Leveraging the synergies of the live fire and virtual, Meggitt Training Systems now offers two products that combine these technologies. The first is the XWT ProImage® projected target system providing image and video targets for indoor shooting ranges. The XWT ProImage is a compact video projector and camera system that attaches to Meggitt’s XWT target carrier. Wirelessly connected to a 10” lane control unit mounted to the shooting stall, the system projects digital videos and images that a shooter can upload onto white paper or cardboard targets. The onboard camera provides a streaming, close-up view of the target for instantaneous feedback.
The XWT ProImage is a simple addition to any XWT GEN3 or GEN4 and features real-time views of the downrange target image from the shooter’s display, allowing instant shooter feedback without the need to retrieve targets, automatic marking of shot locations on image, tracking of new shots versus previous ones, manual marking of shots on moving targets and images, ability to author custom range targets, ability to zero at long distances and receive instant feedback without retrieving the target. The XWT ProImage also eliminates the need to stock an assortment of printed targets, enables premium-lane differentiation.
Integrated training: The nexus of virtual and live fire
At I/ITSEC 2018, Meggitt announced the introduction of BlueRail® technology enabling customers to use live-fire weapons in conjunction with the growing FATS family of simulators.
BlueRail is a cost-effective solution that allows trainees to use their own live weapon in realistic, simulated scenarios. The BlueRail module is the size of a tactical flashlight and can be attached to any weapon that has a Picatinny rail mounting platform, plus other rail types with appropriate adapters. BlueRail provides high-fidelity training via an assortment of weapons. Simultaneously, it limits the resources required to train and broadens the locations where training can occur.
“Knowledge transfer is most effective when a real weapon is used during training and BlueRail makes that easier and more affordable than ever,” stated Read. “Combining live-fire and virtual training can now be done instantly via our small BlueRail device, avoiding costly and time-consuming weapon customization.”
As with Meggitt’s successful tetherless BlueFire® weapon simulators, users can pair BlueRail devices with an adapter connected to FATS virtual training systems, including the affordable and portable FATS 100P. The adapter facilitates bi-directional communications with the system, so instructors and trainees have access to the capabilities they need to ensure accurate marksmanship feedback such as shot detection, weapon cant, aim point and trace, the last of these for measuring acquisition of target, trigger pull and recoil management.
The BlueRail system can be tailored to fit different training needs. Meggitt’s BlueAir recoil solution joins breathable high-pressure air and a BlueFire quick-filling station. This allows easy live weapon conversion with a first-in-industry drop-in kit. BlueAir uses SCUBA air to conveniently charge magazines, eliminating the need for costly CO2 canisters that require extensive maintenance in other drop-in kits.
When BlueRail is paired with Meggitt’s BlueAir, the BlueRACK (Recoiling Air Conversion Kit) device provides additional capabilities normally available only in system-controlled weapon simulators. These include no false triggers (since firing is not based on recoil), programmable ammunition load, weapon malfunction programmed by the system operator, magazine in or out reporting, and the status of additional weapon controls where applicable.
The following recoil methods can be used with a BlueRail device: Meggitt’s BlueAir Drop-In Recoil Kit, a third-party tetherless recoil system, live ammunition on a live-fire screen or indoor shooting range, blanks that cycle the action, Simunition Conversion Kits, SecuriBlank, UTM Silent Blank Rounds and associated conversion kits.
BlueRail delivers reliable tetherless weapon training without the high price and long wait often associated with specialized devices and customization. It provides the fidelity training officers require, while allowing trainees to use their own weapons with a variety of ammunition options in a combined virtual and live-fire environment.
Special forces often need to train in a safe and realistic urban operations environment using a shoot house. Meggitt’s SHOTT™ House provides a customizable solution to fit the needs of a variety of training environments. Design of the live-fire shoot house includes options for items such as catwalks for training observation and ventilation systems for enclosed facilities.
With the combination of the SHOTT House and BlueRail, trainees can conduct trial runs using their service weapons fitted with the BlueRail and then convert their weapons back to live fire and repeat the exercise with live rounds. “Combining this technology provides a seamless and cost-effective progression for training that leverages the best of virtual and live-fire,” said Read.
For customers who require professional assistance in designing their range, Meggitt provides a full complement of services. The company utilizes the best range design practices and ensures compliance with standards such as JSP403, US Air Force Engineering Technology Letter (ETL) or the US Navy for range safety and effectiveness for the specific type of training to be conducted.
This year Meggitt Training Systems will again display at the IWA Outdoor Classics event in Nuremberg, Germany. This will be their fourth year and in addition will also exhibit at the Enforce Tac show the two days prior. By participating in these shows, the company is increasing its European presence, not only in the military and law enforcement markets, but also the commercial one for retail shops with ranges and gun clubs.