16 Feb 23. MASS, the global technology and training support company, has supported the UK Joint Force Air Component Headquarters (JFAC HQ) Exercise Titanium Falcon 22 (Ex TF22) at RAF High Wycombe. Taking place between September and October 2022, the exercise prepared JFAC HQ staff for integrated multinational joint task force missions.
Building on the previous TF21 exercise, and based on a fictious scenario, Ex TF22 was tailored to the HQ’s training objectives and focused on the operational level of Air C2.
Ex TF22 was broken down into specific JFAC division-level training, covering the key stages of Air Command and Control planning. This culminated in a week of operationally focused live HQ training during the final execution phase.
Steve Townsend, Head of Training Support at MASS said, “Today’s dynamic defence environment means that training, particularly for large scale collaborative missions, has never been more important for a successful mission outcome.
“The smooth running and positive feedback from JFAC HQ on the success of the exercise is a clear demonstration of MASS’ ability to develop, organise and execute large scale training programmes for the military. The effectiveness of integrated multinational joint task force missions is crucial and through simulation-based exercises experience can be gained and lessons learned in preparation for potential operations.”
For the exercise, MASS provided an experienced exercise director and staff who supported the core JFAC exercise team during the coordination and management of the event, including scenario and master event list development.
MASS also supplied mentors for each phase of the exercise, as well as a comprehensive simulation system – the US Marine Corps-developed Marine Air Ground Tactical Warfare Simulation (MTWS) – which allowed for accurate simulation including simulated opposition. This ensured a realistic and scalable representation of joint operations, and exercise control with a 360-degree view that allows accurate representation across all environments.
The exercise was also supported by partner nations, which provided valuable insights into the benefits of coalition operations, while land and maritime staff provided vital cross-component interfaces as part of the Joint Force.
15 Feb 23. RAF opens new synthetic training system at RAF Waddington.
The system will link synthetic training devices to a central hub, allowing multi-domain operators to train together. The UK Royal Air Force (RAF) has announced the opening of a new distributed synthetic multi-domain integration training system, referred to as Gladiator.
The system was opened by RAF air staff chief air marshal Sir Mike Wigston.
Gladiator will be operated from the new purpose-built facility, Air Battlespace Training Centre, at RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire, UK.
It has been designed to link different synthetic training devices or simulators to a central hub that can allow operators from various domains and force elements, including land, air, water, cyber and space, to train together in a safe and secure environment.
Wigston said: “Gladiator will enable our forces to trial, test, and practise their tactics in a secure environment, linked across all operational domains.”
The system will address a variety of limitations such as cost, airspace constraints, environmental considerations and operational security, which impact the British forces’ ability to complete the required training in live scenarios.
Overcoming all the constraints, Gladiator will protect the highly classified information and connect all the simulators across the UK and beyond.
According to the service, the new system will not replace live-flying events and will rather allow forces to enhance each training activity to be performed in the most effective conditions.
This system has initially been integrated with Typhoon fighter jets, F-35 Lightning II, RC-135 Rivet Joint and Joint Fires Synthetic Trainer.
Additional platforms are expected to be integrated into aircraft in ‘due course’.
RAF air staff combat assistant chief air commodore Ian Townsend said: “Gladiator will support sustainability initiatives by helping to reduce the environmental footprint of collective training. It will allow for more complex training to occur in a structured setting and reduce the cost of carrying out real-life training while helping to reduce carbon emissions.” (Source: airforce-technology.com)
13 Feb 23. VISTA X-62 Advancing Autonomy and Changing the Face of Air Power. The Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) VISTA X-62A, a one-of-a-kind training aircraft, was flown by an artificial intelligence agent for more than 17 hours recently, representing the first time AI engaged on a tactical aircraft.
VISTA, short for Variable In-flight Simulation Test Aircraft, is changing the face of air power at the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School (USAF TPS) at Edwards Air Force Base in California.
VISTA is a one-of-a-kind training airplane developed by Lockheed Martin Skunk Works® in collaboration with Calspan Corporation for the USAF TPS. Built on open systems architecture, VISTA is fitted with software that allows it to mimic the performance characteristics of other aircraft.
“VISTA will allow us to parallelize the development and test of cutting-edge artificial intelligence techniques with new uncrewed vehicle designs,” said Dr. M. Christopher Cotting, U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School director of research. “This approach, combined with focused testing on new vehicle systems as they are produced, will rapidly mature autonomy for uncrewed platforms and allow us to deliver tactically relevant capability to our warfighter.”
Recent upgrades by the U.S. Air Force include an updated VISTA Simulation System (VSS) provided by Calspan, and Lockheed Martin’s Model Following Algorithm (MFA), and System for Autonomous Control of the Simulation (SACS). The SACS and MFA systems integrated together provide new capabilities to the VISTA so it can be used to conduct the most advanced flight test experiments emphasizing autonomy and AI.
The 17-plus hour flight by an AI agent took place as part of a series of tests in December.
VISTA is a modified F-16D Block 30 Peace Marble Il aircraft upgraded with Block 40 avionics. Previously designated NF-16D, in June 2021 VISTA was recognized by the U.S. Air Force and deemed a national asset with a formal redesignation to VISTA X-62A.
This new mission system capability with VSS, MFA and SACS emphasize advancing autonomous aircraft algorithm development and integration. At the heart of SACS system is the Skunk Works Enterprise-wide Open Systems Architecture (E-OSA) which powers the Enterprise Mission Computer version 2 (EMC2) or “Einstein Box.”
Additional SACS components include integration of advanced sensors, a Multi-Level Security solution, and a set of Getac tablet displays in both cockpits. These components enhance VISTA’s capabilities while maintaining its rapid-prototyping advantage, specifically allowing for quick software changes to increase the frequency of flight test flights and accelerating the pace of AI and autonomy development to meet urgent national security needs.
For decades, Lockheed Martin has been applying and deploying trusted AI technologies to help its customers maximize performance, safety, and situational awareness across all domains. Lockheed Martin’s implementations keep people in control while enabling them to be safer, more effective and better able to focus on higher-level tasks by empowering them to make more-informed decisions quickly.
VISTA will continue to serve an integral role in the rapid development of AI and autonomy capabilities for U.S. Air Force. It is currently undergoing a series of routine inspections. Flights will resume at Edwards Air Force Base throughout 2023.