Sponsored by Meggitt Training Systems
05 Dec 19. Cubic seeks 2020 contract to integrate the F-35 with a cutting-edge training tool. In a war against Russia or China, U.S. fighter pilots could have to contend against fifth-generation fighters, drone swarms and layers of integrated air defenses. How can the U.S. military train pilots to handle those highly advanced threats without breaking the bank? After a series of demonstrations in 2018, the Air Force and Navy might be closer to a technical solution.
The Air Force Research Laboratory aimed to create a technology suite that would allow the service to blend simulators and virtual elements with live training under the Secure Live, Virtual and Constructive Advanced Training Environment (SLATE) program.
In August and September 2018, the Air Force and Navy validated that it could take an F/A-18 Super Hornet and F-15E Strike Eagle outfitted with that gear and run complex flight training scenarios where, for instance, an F-15E pilot flying with a wingman in a simulator could face off against live and virtual adversaries that emit the threat information of Chinese fighter jets or integrated air defenses.
“Over the course of three weeks [in August and September 2018], we flew multiple days, multiple exercises. We flew almost 100 sorties in support of the demonstration,” said Mike Knowles, the head of Cubic Global Defense, AFRL’s industry partner on the program. Knowles spoke with Defense News during the at the Interservice/Industry, Training, Simulation and Education Conference.
Now that SLATE’s technology demonstration phase has ended, the services are identifying their next steps, and Cubic is hoping for more work.
“Air Combat Command and the F-35 oint program office are working to fund our division’s proposed look at SLATE capabilities integration with the F-35,” Dave Noah, Maj. Thomas Adams and Maj. Jason Lingle, who work in AFRL’s Continuous Learning and Program Assessment division, wrote in the lab’s fall 2019 magazine.
The Navy, meanwhile, is interested in holding additional demonstrations with the SLATE technology at Naval Air Station Fallon in Nevada, Knowles said.
“We’ll see some experiments with the Navy take place this summer and into the fall,” he said. “A fifth-gen study on the application of LVC for the F-35, I suspect we’ll see that start this [coming] year also.”
AFRL was responsible for the development of three key technologies for the SLATE: the Fifth Generation Advanced Training Waveform (5GATW), which can manage the unprecedented throughput of data between the different LVC assets; high-level data encryption that keeps sensitive information like radar signatures from proliferating; and a multilevel security system that allows different data to be passed to U.S. and international assets, depending on the level of classification.
Cubic was responsible for the rest of the system, including creating the encryption and security architecture as well as manufacturing a software-defined radio about the size of a smartphone capable of managing and processing the 5GATW.
The SLATE’s 5GATW waveform and security architecture were formulated with fifth-generation aircraft in mind, so the F-35 can use the SLATE pod without needing additional data safeguards. The challenge is integrating the technology with the F-35’s more advanced sensor fusion system, Knowles said.
“On the F-15 and F/A-18 — fourth-generation [jets] — Boeing helped in working the integration between the SLATE pod and the sensor fusion in the aircraft,” he said. “The F-35, given its capabilities are significantly more than a fourth-generation aircraft, the sensor fusion is significantly more complex.
“When you think about it from that perspective, it comes down to a complexity and processing question.”
Cubic’s work for the SLATE technology development phase has come to a close, but Knowles is hopeful the Navy and Air Force will put the company under contract to continue work on the technology over the next year.
“Training has long been that market where it’s usually the last to be funded and the first to be cut,” he said. “But I think service chiefs and commandeers are starting to realize the imperative of training now and what Live, Virtual Constructive could bring to it, which is why I think we could potentially could see an acceleration of the adoption of the technology moving forward.” (Source: Defense News)
05 Dec 19. Six small simulation companies rack up $1m contracts after ‘Shark Tank’-style pitches to US Air Force. On Wednesday, six small businesses pitched U.S. Air Force acquisition leaders on unique training and simulation technologies, each walking away with a $1m contract in as little as 20 minutes. The inaugural Simulators Pitch Day at the Interservice/Industry, Training, Simulation and Education Conference was the third “Shark Tank”-style event held by the service in the hopes of broadening its industrial base to include small companies, startups and other firms that don’t typically work with the government.
“I thought what they presented was awesome. But actually I felt a sense of accomplishment, which is something that we sometimes don’t feel in acquisitions because it often takes forever to get something done,” said Col. Phillip Carpenter, the Air Force’s senior materiel leader for the simulators program office.
During a Thursday event that allowed the six companies to take a victory lap by pitching their products to an audience of Air Force and industry officials attending the conference, Carpenter recounted how he felt presenting each company with funding meant to help further develop their products.
“The looks on their faces — I know the feelings that they felt about the opportunity to participate with us in our mission. In 25 years of doing acquisitions it was probably one of the greatest feelings I’ve ever had,” he said.
Although the Air Force didn’t limit the types of technologies that companies could pitch, it sought out several specific technologies including high-end weather effects for gaming environments, high-fidelity simulators that could be deployed to austere locations, cloud-based simulators and artificial intelligence-aided instruction tools.
In the end, Perceptronics Solutions, Information Systems Laboratories, DTI, PlaneEnglish, Take Flight and King Crow Studios were chosen to present 10-minute proposals during a closed-door session with Air Force acquisition officials.
The technologies presented by the companies covered a wide variety of niche gaps in the simulation industry. DTI pitched a stereoscopic 3D display that doesn’t require specialized 3D glasses — something the company believes might one day be a useful upgrade for the remote vision system used by KC-46 boom operators. Plane English proposed an aviation radio simulation for aircrews to familiarize themselves with radio chatter.
The other pitches were:
- Take Flight Interactive’s virtual flight instructor.
- Perceptronics’ assessment tool called Train DX, which brings together instructor evaluations, biometrics and data from simulators and other training tools to create a “report card.”
- King Crow Studios’ virtual reality trainer to teach advanced tactics to pilots.
- Information Systems Laboratories’ plug-and-play “sidecar” for flight simulators that better imitates the effects of radar and electronic warfare systems.
“I want to let some of the small companies that might be in the room know that if you’re thinking about doing Pitch Day next year, it really wasn’t that terrifying,” said Greg Carter, vice president of Information Systems Laboratories.
“I really didn’t sleep the night before,” he said, joking that he had nightmares where Carpenter transformed into Shark Tank host Mark Cuban. “[After winning], I slept much better.” (Source: Defense News)
05 Dec 19. Doron Precision Systems reveals JLTV trainer. Doron Precision Systems has developed a Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) driver training simulator and revealed it at the 2019 Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference (I/ITSEC) in Orlando in December.
Michael Stricek, Doron senior vice-president, told Jane’s that the simulator, which is mounted on a three degrees of freedom (3-DoF) motion platform, is based on the technology used in Doron’s existing driver training simulators such as the 660Truck, 39 of which it has recently supplied to the US Army Reserve. The simulator uses the same basic proprietary software, with the addition of the JLTV vehicle dynamics and behaviour model that Doron has developed. (Source: Jane’s)
04 Dec 19. Coming in 2020: A new technology to link F-35 simulators across the globe. Next year, U.S. Air Force F-35 pilots will be able to hop into a simulator and practice large-scale coordinated attacks with other F-35A users in simulators around the globe, Lockheed Martin’s head of F-35 training said Tuesday. The capability, called Distributed Mission Training, will allow an unlimited number of F-35 simulators to be networked, enabling high-end training, said Chauncey McIntosh, Lockheed’s vice president for F-35 training and logistics.
“We’ve been testing to ensure that it’s ready to go with our first customer at Nellis Air Force Base [in Nevada]. We’ve got hardware that’s going up there this month and we’re starting our test connections, and everything is looking very well [regarding] this product,” he said during a briefing at the Interservice/Industry, Training, Simulation and Education Conference.
“Essentially we’re waiting just to get the accreditation from the government. We’ll connect that [hardware] and then we’ll start running tests on site with software. And then we’ll go to our final delivery in spring of 2020,” he told Defense News.
Currently, F-35 bases can only link as many simulators as they have on site — usually as many as four. However, the Distributed Mission Training capability, or DMT, will allow every U.S. Air Force base to connect up to four of its F-35 simulators with those of every other air base, McIntosh said.
At some point, F-35A simulators may also be able to regularly connect with any other aircraft simulator that can be supported on the same network.
“Here at Orlando, in our labs, we’ve already connected to the F-22, the F-16, as well as to [E-3] AWACS [airborne early warning and control aircraft],” McIntosh said. “Almost every week we are writing test scenarios with additional platforms.”
Lockheed is under contract to provide DMT to the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps, as well as to the United Kingdom. However, because all of those entities run their F-35 simulators aboard different networks, they will be unable to connect with variants from other services, McIntosh said.
While Nellis is slated to receive DMT early next year, the F-35 Joint Program Office and Lockheed are still discussing the schedule for further deployments to other bases and services, McIntosh explained. (Source: Defense News)
05 Dec 19. Australia and partner nations conclude Exercise DUGONG 19. Mine warfare and dive teams from five countries have concluded the 18th iteration of Exercise Dugong at Fleet Base West, Rockingham in Western Australia. Exercise DUGONG 19, an international mine countermeasure exercise hosted by the Royal Australian Navy, began on 11 November.
Forces from the US Navy, the British Royal Navy and the navies of Canada and New Zealand also participated in the exercise.
The two-week exercise was designed to increase interoperability among participating nations in maritime mine warfare.
The RAN stated that DUGONG allowed its personnel to train with partner nations in mine countermeasures and water space management.
Clearance Diving Team Four commanding officer lieutenant commander Ryan Post said: “DUGONG provides very shallow water mine countermeasure training, using both autonomous vehicles and clearance divers from participating nations.
“By bringing in our coalition partners we can work on our integration and improve how we operate together in the area of very shallow water mine countermeasures.”
The field training exercise involved very shallow water mine countermeasures, counter-improvised explosive device, explosive ordnance disposal, expeditionary reconnaissance and clearance drills.
Participating forces practised contemporary mine warfare and dive salvage techniques during the exercise.
Royal Canadian Navy diving officer lieutenant Slava Khabiam said: “Canada has been participating in DUGONG for the past few years and the exercise is very beneficial for our team as it allows us to develop our ability to integrate into an international environment.
“This is important because in any mine countermeasure operation we would not be working on our own, but as an international team.”
Exercise DUGONG was first conducted in 1988. (Source: naval-technology.com)
03 Dec 19. Saab to manage German Army’s GÜZ combat training centre. Saab has received an Skr870m ($91.01m) contract to support the German Army’s combat training centre Gefechtsübungszentrum Heer (GÜZ). The contract covers operational support for the centre for the period between 2020 and 2026. Under the contract, Saab will be responsible for the management and maintenance of the exercise control centre, all live simulation training equipment and communication infrastructure.
The company will also provide storage and handling of weapons and ammunition, and servicing of vehicles and radio equipment. Other logistical services in the contract include transportation of military troops and the sustainment of the GÜZ training centre.
Saab Dynamics business area head Görgen Johansson said: “This order further strengthens our position in Germany and highlights the wide knowledge and expertise within Saab. It increases Saab’s overall footprint and reaffirms our commitment to Germany.”
The company has formed a partnership with military vehicle manufacturer Flensburger Fahrzeugbau to deliver the contracted work.
The firms previously worked together at GÜZ from 2004 to 2008.
Saab Dynamics Training & Simulation head Åsa Thegström said: “We are pleased to have been awarded the contract to support GÜZ. Within Saab we have years of experience delivering these type of services to major Nato and Partnership for Peace customers.
“We are looking forward for a great collaboration with the people behind the day-to-day operations at GÜZ, both Bundeswehr and our new colleagues.”
GÜZ is used for the training needs of the German Army. The combat training centre also regularly meets the training needs of Austria, the Netherlands, Czech Republic, and the US 7th Army.
The facility will also open its doors for the British Army from next year. In August, Saab won a contract to provide a complete combat training centre to the Belgian Army. (Source: army-technology.com)
03 Dec 19. How much does an island cost? Japan may soon buy one for US Navy training. Japan is nearing an agreement to purchase a privately owned island for use as a training ground for U.S. military aircraft based in Japan, potentially ending a sometimes torturous process that began nearly a decade ago.
Quoting “several government sources” as well as those from the company that owns the island of Mageshima, the Asahi Shimbun reported Nov. 30 that an agreement for the sale was “close to completion.”
The price for ownership of the uninhabited island, which measures roughly 3 square miles, was reported to be $146m. Japan moved to purchase the island following an agreement reached in 2011 with the U.S. military to provide a training site for Japan-based U.S. Navy carrier-based aircraft to conduct landing training operations.
Previously, such training operations were conducted at Iwo-to, more commonly known as Iwo Jima, in the Bonin group of islands, located in the Pacific Ocean and more than 700 miles from the U.S. Navy’s Japanese bases at Atsugi and Iwakuni.
Japan’s Defense Ministry also reportedly plans to build facilities for its forces on the island, which will make it easier to defend its southern islands that also include Okinawa and the disputed Senkaku islands, which are claimed by China.
The latest report comes after an earlier agreement for the sale of the island reached in January was scuppered when a new president took over the helm of Taston Airport, the Tokyo-based development company that owns 99 percent of Mageshima.
The Japanese government valued the island at $60m, 10 percent of Taston Airport’s valuation. Negotiations were broken off in May and only restarted in November as the island’s owners faced financial difficulties, according to Asahi Shimbun.
The Japanese newspaper also reported that the new purchase price was reached after taking into account money spent by the company to improve the island, which is part of the Osumi group of islands and is located 18 miles from the southern tip of Kyushu, the southernmost of Japan’s four main islands.
According to satellite images, Mageshima currently has two dirt runways measuring 2.6-by-1.4 miles. These will, however, require resurfacing, and other supporting infrastructure must be built on the island before it could be used for its intended purpose.
The Asahi Shimbun also reported that the local government of Nishinoomote city, which owns the remaining 1 percent of the island and has jurisdiction over Mageshima, previously “expressed a cautious stance toward such military training.” (Source: Defense News)
03 Dec 19. UK advances autonomous platforms in amphibious operations. Key Points:
- UK maritime forces conduct second experiment with autonomous capabilities
- Advanced technologies will support the development of the Future Commando Force
The UK Royal Navy (RN) and Royal Marines (RM) have completed a major experimental exercise as part of the work to develop the Future Commando Force (FCF) and Littoral Strike capability. Autonomous Advanced Force (AAF) 2.0, which took place in North Devon in the UK in November 2019, was part of the ‘Commando Warrior’ series of exercises designed to develop FCF concepts.
The event, which was run under the auspices of Navy X, the RN’s Autonomy and Lethality Accelerator, included participation of RM units; 700X RN Air Squadron (RNAS); MarWorks, the RN’s Information Warfare (IW) Technology Accelerator; and 11 companies providing unmanned and autonomous platforms and capabilities. (Source: Jane’s)
03 Dec 19. The US Air Force wants to network all its weapons together. Will simulators be included? As the U.S. military prepares for the release of its fiscal 2021 budget request, Air Force leaders have made clear that a massive financial hike is needed for multidomain command-and-control efforts to connect weapon systems across the joint force.
As part of that initiative, it will also be critical for the military to link together simulators so service members can replicate combat on a massive scale, Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Stephen Wilson said during a speech Tuesday at the Interservice/Industry, Training, Simulation and Education Conference.
“I know you spent a lot of time yesterday about how to connect and integrate simulators from across our various weapons systems. I can’t overstate how important that is,” he said. “Individual weapon system simulators can help our men and women become proficient tacticians, but it’s their ability to integrate and connect that will differentiate us against a peer threat. And no one is going to win alone.”
Wilson said the Air Force plans to spend “a lot of money in this next five-year defense plan” on multidomain command and control, but he did not detail how much funding the service might ask for, or whether that sum will include investments in technology to network together simulators. The service is still in the earliest stages of identifying how to connect its aircraft and space assets with the joint force to fight advanced, near-peer threats like Russia and China. The same goes for its aircraft simulators, which are largely detached from each other.
An Air Force program called Simulator Common Architecture Requirements and Standards, or SCARS, will start to transform the simulation enterprise and make it more interconnected, said Col. Phillip Carpenter, the Air Force’s senior materiel leader for the simulators program office.
“It’s an effort to make the entire portfolio more modular, more open-system,” he told Defense News in an exclusive interview. “I’m not going to say [SCARS] is the solution to all of our problems,” but it will “help lay that groundwork so that we become much more interoperable across the board.”
Under SCARS, the Air Force wants to create a common, open architecture for its simulators that will impose stricter cybersecurity standards and make it easier for the service to update simulators with new capabilities or threat information. The goal, Carpenter said, is to have a fleet of simulators that can remotely receive software updates, much like a smartphone.
The Air Force released a SCARS request for proposals in December 2018 for a 10-year contract worth up to $900m, according to Bloomberg. The service intends to award a contract for SCARS in 2020 and has received a lot of interest from industry, Carpenter said.
Carpenter was clear that SCARS — at least how it is currently conceived — will not enable the Air Force to carry out the type of scenarios Wilson spoke about: large-scale, simulated air operations involving simulators of many different airframes. To achieve that, “we need to work on some of the security pieces so that we can allow multilevel security or some of these other aspects that would allow totality of these systems to participate and fight like they would actually fight in a real world,” Carpenter explained.
But Carpenter believes there is potential for other parts of the Air Force — like its space, cyber and intelligence community — or even the other services to adopt SCARS or an architecture that is compatible with it.
“I think there is great potential for SCARS to be more than something for just aircraft simulators,” he said. “If somebody is off building a system outside of our portfolio, if it’s built to a common standard, I think that would effectively make all the systems, whether they’re in our portfolio or not, more interoperable.” (Source: Defense News)
03 Dec 19. US Army Spending Big on Training, Modeling, Simulation. The market for Army training, modeling and simulation capabilities has seen significant growth in recent years, and major opportunities lie ahead for contractors, analysts say.
Unclassified contract obligations for these initiatives totaled $1.6 bn in fiscal year 2015, according to a Bloomberg Government report, “Army Market: Budget and Opportunities.” That number rose to $1.8bn in 2016, $2.3bn in 2017 and $2.4 bn in 2018. Contract obligations are estimated to further increase to $2.7 bn in 2019 and $3bn in 2020.
“The Army is moving rapidly to enhance training because of the renewed focus on potential near-peer adversaries,” said the report. “The training, modeling and simulation market is strong and growing.”
To better prepare for high-end threats, the service is creating a synthetic training environment that would utilize a combination of live training, virtual and augmented reality, and gaming technology to enable individual soldiers and units to conduct realistic, repetitive training anywhere in the world.
The Army is also gung-ho on conducting exercises and experimentation to test new technology and multi-domain operating concepts, Cameron Leuthy, a senior budget analyst with Bloomberg Government, said during a recent industry briefing.
“There has also been recapitalization going on with Army training equipment,” he added.
Recapitalization initiatives with requests for proposals expected by the end of this year include the Soldier/Squad Virtual Trainer, the National Cyber Range Complex, and Training and Doctrine Command’s G-2 Operational Environment and Core Function Support for intelligence training. Upcoming major exercises include Cyber Quest 2020, Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiments 2020 and the April-May 2020 Joint Warfighting Assessment, according to his presentation slides.
The Army’s plans to upgrade its command, control, communications and computer networks will create new training needs and opportunities, Leuthy noted. The network is one of the service’s top modernization priorities.
“The network issue is a huge problem,” he said. “The cyber and the training related to that is … where they’re going to invest.”
Additionally, the Army is planning to move away from its Warfighter Focus, or WFF, training services contract vehicle, which includes maintenance, operations and sustainment of training systems, Leuthy noted. The contract vehicle has been worth billions of dollars in recent years.
“In the training arena, this is a very big deal,” he said.
Looking ahead, the Training and Readiness Accelerator, or TReX, could see an increase in other transaction authority agreement contract dollars flowing through it as the Army pursues its synthetic training environment, Leuthy noted.
The TReX consortium, which is managed by the National Security Technology Accelerator, is a public-private partnership intended to bring together industry, academia, laboratories and government agencies such as the Defense Department to promote innovation.
The organization “expedites development, demonstration and delivery of prototypes to increase warfighter readiness,” according to the TReX website. “With a focus on modeling, simulation and training, TReX provides the United States government with an agile mechanism to iterate and refine critical technologies to keep pace with ongoing and emerging challenges. By actively incorporating structured operational user feedback, TReX will identify and develop innovative solutions to inform materiel procurement requirements and acquisition.”
OTA agreements are a contracting tool granted by Congress to help cut through bureaucratic red tape associated with traditional Pentagon procurement processes. The authority enables the Defense Department to put companies on contract more quickly for prototyping and follow-on production.
About $3.3bn has already been obligated by the Army for OTA agreements this year based on the latest data, but that number is expected to rise when additional contracting data is available, according to Robert Levinson, a senior defense analyst with Bloomberg Government.
Leuthy added that “synthetic training is likely to see an increase … through that OTA mechanism.”
The vast majority of OTA funding has been awarded through consortia, Levinson noted. Bloomberg Government tracks funding for 26 different consortia.
The fee to join a consortium is often inexpensive, Levinson said, and the investment could be well worth it for contractors. “You can’t bid on the work, you can’t submit proposals unless you’re a member,” he noted. (Source: glstrade.com/NDIA)
02 Dec 19. Singapore and Indian airforces hone skills in joint military training. The Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) are conducting joint military training (JMT) at Kalaikunda Air Force Station in India. The RSAF has deployed six F-16C/D fighter aircraft for training alongside IAF’s six SU-30MKI fighter aircraft for the JMT, being conducted from 31 October to 12 December 2019.
The tenth edition of the JMT exercise includes an air-sea training component, which the Indian Navy assets are supporting for the first time.
JMT is expected to enable the aircrew from both airforces to improve operational skills and enhance interoperability through training such as air combat and mission-oriented training.
RSAF Air Combat Command Commander Brigadier-General Ho Kum Luen said: “Since the conduct of the first JMT in 2008, the exercise has grown in scale and complexity with advanced fighter assets from both countries training together to enhance our interoperability.
“The scope of the exercise, which includes both air-to-air and air-to-surface scenarios, provides realistic training and increases the operational readiness for both airforces.
“The RSAF values the opportunity to train alongside our counterparts from India, which enhances our competencies and also builds mutual trust amongst our people.”
IAF Eastern Air Command Senior Air Staff Officer Air Marshal VR Chaudhari said: “JMT provides the IAF and the RSAF, both being professional and capable airforces, with excellent opportunities to train alongside each other.
“Through this exercise, our IAF personnel also have the opportunity to further our interactions with the RSAF counterparts.
“This tenth edition of JMT is testament to our strong relationship and the lasting friendship that we have built over the years.”
JMT is held under the Air Force Bilateral Agreement, which was signed in 2007 and renewed in 2017. In addition to the JMT, both airforces interact through regular visits, cross-attendance of courses and other professional exchanges. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
02 Dec 19. Misawa Air Force Base’s Draughon Range Fires Up on Northrop Grumman’s Distributed Mission Operations Network. Joining a scalable and cyber-secure network of over 300 simulator integrations in 85 sites around the world, the Draughon Range, with F-16C simulator, at Misawa U.S. Air Force Base in Japan, is the latest connection to Northrop Grumman’s Distributed Mission Operations Network (DMON). A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon taxis down the runway during exercise RED FLAG-Alaska 19-1, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. As the provider of DMON capabilities, Northrop Grumman delivers the virtual-constructive backbone for the U.S. Air Force’s Live, Virtual and Constructive (LVC) training technology. It’s a core enabler for the Air Force to achieve its LVC vision of worldwide training.
The new connectivity of the Draughon Range to the DMON enables Misawa Air Force Base to join on-demand training events with other DMON participants around the globe. These events include daily small team training missions, as well as large force exercises like Red Flag Alaska, Northern Edge and Distant Frontier. The connection of local simulators, threat generation systems, live range threats and live aircraft add significant training complexity to daily events.
DMON: Critical for LVC Success
DMON, a fully-functioning collective training solution, allows different aircraft simulator platforms located across the globe to seamlessly interoperate and train together in a realistic virtual environment via a secure network. DMON provides on-demand, inter-team training for the U.S. Air Force’s Combat and Mobility Air Forces on a daily basis.
Mobility Air Force Distributed Mission Operations (DMO) utilizes the Distributed Training Center Network (DTCN) to interconnect its training sites. The DMON and DTCN can connect on-demand to allow the platforms to train together.
LVC: Training for All
By joining on DMON, Misawa Air Force Base is a part of an expanding global LVC blended training network meant to mimic the growing complexities of real-world battlespaces. Along with the flying hour cost of live platforms, the training needs for the real-world battlespace is the driver behind bringing the “L” and the “VC” training domains together into a seamlessly integrated LVC training environment. Northrop Grumman is the only technology provider to achieve an on-demand, global LVC training solution, which connects the live environment to actual warfighter simulators.
02 Dec 19. Raytheon debuts portable V-22 virtual reality trainer.
Fully immersive system provides hyper-realistic Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN) debuted a virtual reality version of its portable V-22 trainer today at I/ITSEC, the world’s largest modeling, simulation and training event. Aircraft Functional V-22 Trainer-Virtual Reality is a fully immersive system that provides hyper-realistic training across all experience levels, including early-career aviation maintenance students and those engaged in continuing education.
“The system is intuitive and realistic, making the training sessions more productive and meaningful,” said Wendell Bradshaw, director at Raytheon’s Intelligence, Information and Services business. “Adding the virtual reality element further increases the training’s realism and the students’ mission readiness.”
Students can access integrated interactive electronics technical manuals and 41 different operational aircrew and maintainer checklists to help them navigate the fully interactive cockpit, cabin, and exterior.
Instructors can insert up to 81 unique system failures, such as electrical power, navigation, blade-fold, and electronic warfare, into the training scenarios. The trainer also supports multiplayer collaboration with directional audio and two-way communications with instructors and other students.
02 Dec 19. CAE launches new virtual reality trainer. As the U.S. Air Force looks increasingly toward virtual reality for speeding up and cutting the cost of pilot training, Canadian defense firm CAE is stepping forward with own courseware and virtual reality system with the hopes of attracting interest from the U.S. and international militaries.
CAE will debut its CAE TRAX Academy curriculum and Sprint Virtual Reality trainer this week at the Interservice/Industry, Training, Simulation and Education Conference. Throughout the show, the company plans to conduct T-6 flight demonstrations using both products.
CAE was inspired by the U.S. Air Force’s Pilot Training Next program, which uses virtual reality and other cutting-edge simulation technologies to immerse new pilots in flight training, allowing airment to move more quickly and effectively through training.
But CAE is hoping to build on the principles of Pilot Training Next and package it to be purchased by the U.S. Air Force and international militaries, said Phillipe Perey, the head of technology for CAE’s defense business.
“With Pilot Training Next, everyone is looking with big eyes saying, ‘Wow, oh wow,’ but [some generals] are sort of like, ‘Would you really embrace this and do that for your entire air force?’” he said. “So perhaps this is a way of taking the great mission of Pilot Training Next and bringing into that environment with many of the key capabilities that customers have been used to, [such as] true aircraft simulation and many other aspects like a force-feedback stick.”
All of the Sprint virtual reality trainer’s hardware — including the Varjo VR-2 headset — are commercial off-the-shelf products and can be modified or swapped with a different device to meet the customer’s needs. The real value, Perey said, is the software and courseware of TRAXX Academy, in which students progress from mobile apps and VR trainers to a higher fidelity flight simulator.
“I think it really drives efficiencies at two levels. One, it reduces costs because the students in there are able to progress at their own pace. Them being alpha personalities; they don’t want to be average. They want to be top of class, and they will see how other students are performing and they will be able to pick up their pace,” he said, adding that a six month class could take four months or less to complete if students are driven to complete the coursework.
Secondly, the use of self-paced tools and virtual instructors decreases the need for human instructors that could be filling other needed functions within an air force, Perey said.
In developing the Sprint VR trainer, CAE started with same kit as used in the Pilot Training Next program, and tweaked it to create “a better self-paced learning environment,” he said.
CAE made a number of adjustments: Using the same software on the virtual reality trainer as the full flight simulator, substituting a joystick that better simulates G forces, and adding haptics so that pilots can feel vibration or other sensory feedback that they would normally expect while operating the aircraft.
Perey said CAE is looking forward to briefing the U.S. Air Force on TRAXX Academy and the Sprint VR trainer during I/ITSEC and getting officials’ feedback.
“That’s really the priority now in the next coming months, is to build out these devices, get them in the customer’s hands, get their feedback and develop a solution that is tailored to their particular training needs,” he said. (Source: Defense News)
02 Dec 19. Amid budget uncertainty, US Army may seek funding override for virtual training program. If Congress does not approve the fiscal 2020 budget by the end of December, the Army may seek an exemption that would allow its Synthetic Training Environment program to proceed at pace, a service official said Monday. The Army has outlined the potential negative impacts that a continuing resolution — which would hold funding at FY19 levels — would have on the STE program, as well as possibilities for ameliorating them, Maj. Gen. Maria Gervais, the Army’s director of the STE Cross-Functional Team, said during a panel discussion at the Interservice/Industry, Training, Simulation and Education Conference.
“Look, I can’t predict what is going to happen. However, we have been very vocal, we have laid out our impacts and we are assessing the impacts to our programs,” she said.
“We have also taken a look at what are the ways we can mitigate the impact of that CR. For example, whenever the CR goes through, is there a way to work with our vendors to continue our efforts knowing that a CR is going to be lifted at any time? We are working all of those options right now,” she added.
One of those options, Gervais explained, is an “anomaly” — the budgetary term given to congressionally granted exceptions to a CR that would allow new programs to start or increase funding ahead of a budget agreement.
To move quickly on the STE program, the Army has relied on other transaction authority agreements with industry. While that mechanism, known as an OTA, allows the service to more quickly ink contracts with greater agility than the traditional process, a number of OTAs will come to an end around February and March, said Brig. Gen. Michael Sloane, the Army’s program executive officer for simulation, training and instrumentation. Once that happens, certain companies will no longer have the resources to continue development and experimentation, he said.
The following STE initiatives would see their OTAs end as early as February or March:
- The Reconfigurable Virtual Collective Trainer, or RVCT, to replace the legacy Aviation Combined Arms Tactical Trainer and Close Combat Tactical Trainer with new ground and air trainers. In June, Cole Engineering Services, Inc. beat out 10 vendors to build RVCT prototypes. The contract is worth $81.4m if all options are executed.
- The Training Simulation Software and Training Management Tool, which will bring together simulation inputs from the multiple platforms that comprise the STE and provide a user interface for scenario creation. VT MAK won the $95m contract for these two elements in June.
- One World Terrain, which will allow soldiers to train in a high-fidelity environment that replicates the terrain of any location on Earth. Vricon won this prototype project in June, worth $95m if all options are executed.
Gervais noted that those initiatives — as well as STE’s weapons optimization and live training efforts — could see negative impacts if a CR extends beyond December, though she did not elaborate.
To mitigate the effect of a prolonged CR, the Army is evaluating whether it can alter the funding stream of its current OTAs to manage the approved funding and spread it over a longer period of time, Sloane said.
“A lot of these [contractors] are nontraditional companies. What that means is they are smaller companies,” Sloane said.
The risk is that, if funding on an OTA runs out, defense contractors will have to move personnel off the STE program and onto other projects — leading to a loss in talent and potentially a delay in getting launching the program.
“Can we slow progress, still deliver the capability over time, but maybe a month or two or three later?” he wondered. “Can we expand and contract on that contract vehicle without causing any detrimental damage to that company?”
Another option is to ask Congress for an anomaly in the January/February time frame, which could allow companies to continue work on the STE. However, Gervais noted that any such request must be approved by Army leaders, who would prioritize it against other programs seeking relief, and that would still be predecisional. (Source: Defense News)
02 Dec 19. Raytheon unveils new dismounted soldier training simulator. U.S. Army synthetic training environment makes training more effective and accessible anytime, anywhere. Raytheon (NYSE: RTN) unveiled a new immersive military training product today at I/ITSEC, the world’s largest modeling, simulation and training event. The Synthetic Training Environment Soldier Virtual Trainer, or STE SVT, uses virtual reality to train squads of soldiers in multiple scenarios while using real and virtual weapons.
The new virtual simulator is designed to train dismounted infantry and uses the latest technological advances to deliver highly effective training at a moment’s notice from any location. It delivers unmatched realism and accessibility while dramatically reducing the cost and logistical challenge of high-consequence training missions.
“Raytheon tech helps specialists around the world prepare for the world’s most important missions,” said Bob Williams, vice president of Global Training Solutions at Raytheon Intelligence, Information and Services. “We are blending our understanding of training with emerging technologies – augmented reality, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and big data – to connect and secure military training like never before.”
The vision for the U.S. Army’s Synthetic Training Environment is to create a common synthetic environment for soldiers to train together from anywhere in the world. Raytheon’s STE SVT answers that call and will completely change the way military training is done. The current room-sized simulators will be replaced by portable laptop-powered AR/VR headsets that easily can be transported to soldiers for use anywhere at any time.
01 Dec 19. US Military Makes Bold Statement in First-of-its-Kind Exercise with India. A new milestone was reached last week in the growing U.S.-India partnership when nearly 2,000 troops from the two countries completed a military exercise in the Bay of Bengal.
About 500 Marines and sailors aboard the dock landing ship Germantown joined roughly 1,200 Indian troops for Exercise Tiger Triumph. It was the first time all of India’s military services, including the army, navy and air force, participated in a training exercise with U.S. troops.
The nine-day exercise ended on Nov. 21.
The U.S. and India signed a defense agreement last year. Then-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said at the time the two countries would “work together for a free and prosperous Indo-Pacific.”
Military leaders and defense experts have stressed the importance of a strong partnership between the U.S. and India as China’s influence in the Asia-Pacific region expands. A January Pentagon news release calls the U.S.-India defense relationship “indispensable in promoting peace, prosperity and stability in the Asia Pacific and Indian Ocean region.”
The U.S. declared India a major defense partner in 2016.
Related: Admiral: Don’t Sanction India for Buying Russian ‘F-35 Killer’ Missiles
During Tiger Triumph, U.S. troops sailed aboard Indian ships and Indian troops on the Georgetown to “[gain] exposure to their partners’ naval capabilities,” according to a Marine Corps video on the exercise. The ships sailed from Visakhapatnam along India’s east coast about 100 miles south to Kakinada.
An Indian UH-3H Sea King helicopter landed aboard the USS Germantown during the exercise, and there was live-fire training on the ship. The troops also practiced moving ashore to respond to a humanitarian crisis.
President Donald Trump spoke about the exercise during a September rally in Houston where he appeared alongside India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The event was billed as “Howdy, Modi: Shared Dreams, Bright Futures.”
“In November, the United States and India will demonstrate a dramatic progress of our defense relationship, holding the first-ever tri-service military exercise between our nations,” Trump said. “It’s called ‘Tiger Triumph.’ Good name. … We honor all of the brave American and Indian military service members who work together to safeguard our freedom.”
While many see a U.S.-India partnership as a vital step in countering China, the relationship has been complicated when the country decided to move forward with a decision to purchase S-400 Triumf anti-air missiles, which Moscow bills as “F-35 killers.”
But last year, Adm. Phil Davidson, head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, warned Congress against the U.S. sanctioning India over the move, saying the partnership between the two countries to counter China should take precedence.
“If the United States decides to sanction these partner nations for their purchases of Russian equipment, this decision may hinder the growth of each developing partnership and increase each partner’s dependence on Russia,” Davidson told lawmakers.
Last year, Mattis announced that U.S. Pacific Command was being renamed INDO-PACOM “in recognition of the increasing connectivity between the Indian and Pacific oceans.” As Reuters noted at the time, the move was seen as a symbolic nod to India and its growing importance to the Pentagon. (Source: Military.com)
29 Nov 19. Pentagon changes contracting approach for Afghan training to save money. The Pentagon has modified how it fulfills some training requirements for Afghan security forces in hopes it can renegotiate costs and needs that may become inaccurate over time, according to a U.S. government watchdog.
Prior to April 2019, most training requirements covered by the Afghanistan Security Forces Fund were filled under a single-award indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract. That approach, known as the Warfighter Field Operations Customer Support contract, provided the Defense Department with a broad range of support and a ceiling of $11.2bn. But officials complained that the single-award contract limited the department’s ability to negotiate some costs.
“Only certain types of costs could be negotiated, such as those associated with housing, travel, and the number of advisers supporting the training,” the Government Accountability Office found.
Additionally, U.S. officials told the GAO that key decisions and associated cost assumptions related to training Afghan forces occur 18-24 months before the training actually takes place. That time frame, they said, can create a challenge in developing accurate cost estimates “given that situations in Afghanistan can change significantly.”
For example, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction reported in January 2019 that Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan — charged with supporting the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces — may have overestimated the cost for UH-60 Black Hawk pilot training by as much as $1bn over a seven-year period. The possible overestimation was partly attributed to “unrealistic assumptions regarding student or pilot attrition and the English language program,” the GAO report said.
In response, the Defense Department began issuing new contracts involving multiple providers in April under an approach called the Enterprise Training Service Contract.
It “affords the opportunity to negotiate more elements than previously under the WFF contract, such as labor rates or travel costs associated with training,” the GAO said. The watchdog noted it is too soon to evaluate the effectiveness of this approach.
Since 2005, Congress has appropriated more than $78.8bn for the Afghanistan Security Forces Fund to equip and train the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces, the GAO reported. Over that period, nearly $4.3bn went toward training and operation support of the Afghan National Army. (Source: Defense News)
29 Nov 19. Boxer Amphibious Ready Group concludes fleet deployment. The US Navy’s Boxer Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) has successfully concluded a seven-month deployment to the US 5th and 7th Fleet areas of operations.
Following the completion of the deployment, sailors and marines and of the Boxer ARG and 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) returned to their homeport of San Diego. The ARG/MEU deployment involved over 4,500 sailors and marines who conducted training in Djibouti, Brunei, the Philippines, Malaysia, Kuwait, and Jordan. During the deployment, personnel carried out maritime security operations and theatre security cooperation.
Deployment of the maritime assets and personnel was intended to promote regional security and stability.
Amphibious Squadron 5 commander captain Jason Burns said: “The ARG and MEU team trained hard for this deployment and proved we were ready to operate together as a cohesive team across the world as America’s forward-deployed crisis-response force.
“From Bahrain to Jordan and the Philippines, we safely executed multiple exercises with our allied partners in the region. I am extremely proud of our sailors and marines and privileged to have had the opportunity to share this deployment with them.”
The Boxer ARG units participated in multilateral exercises with allies to enhance partnerships and increase combat readiness and crisis response.
Exercises included Tiger Strike with Malaysia, KAMANDAG 3 with the Philippines, and Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training with Brunei.
Units of the Boxer ARG include amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4), amphibious dock landing ship USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49), and San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock USS John P Murtha (LPD 26). (Source: naval-technology.com)
28 Nov 19. US Navy trainer helicopter award schedule slips. The US Navy’s (USN) TH-73A trainer helicopter contract award is to be delayed by at least a month as the US Government continues to function under Continuing Resolution (CR) legislation – preventing FY2020 new start programmes from commencing.
An original date of November 2019 had been planned for industry competitors to receive a $900m contract for 130 new naval trainers to replace the legacy Bell TH-57 Sea Ranger fleet, but until an approved appropriations act for FY2020 has been signed into law, no such developments will take place.
A second Continuing Resolution currently lasts until December 21 which could see decision-makers agree on appropriations, but the possibility of a third would mean an even longer TH-73A delay.
‘In the event of prolonged CR, NAVAIR will continue to coordinate with industry and adjust requirements accordingly,’ a NAVAIR spokesperson confirmed to Shephard.
Airbus is offering the H135 light twin, followed by Bell and its 407GXi light single and Leonardo’s TH-119 light single, all of which meet a compulsory US Navy IFR requirement.
Industry participants have also had their respective aircraft evaluated by the US Navy as part of the acquisition, with a four-year production schedule planned – post contract award.
‘Airbus Helicopters stands ready at any moment to fully support the navy’s AHTS [Advanced Helicopter Training System] requirement with the best-value solution….and technically mature H135,’ a spokesperson for the manufacturer said in a statement.
‘In order to prepare for the navy’s plan to begin operations as soon as next year, we have already begun production of the first helicopter for the navy out of our current production line in Columbus, Mississippi that has delivered more than 450 Lakota helicopters to the US Army and US Navy, and which is easily augmentable for H135 production.’
The H135 has also completed 355,000 military helicopter training hours according to Airbus, but there are some doubts about the aircraft’s suitability for selection because of high costs associated with repeated autorotation to the ground manoeuvres, though the company insists that the aircraft meets all outstanding technical requirements covered by the navy tender.
‘Leonardo fully supports this important naval aviation programme to replace all the training helicopters offering the best value, lowest risk solution,’ a spokesperson for the OEM explained. ‘The navy has done an excellent job keeping the AHTS (TH-73) programme on schedule as a top priority directly supporting naval aviation readiness and manpower, and the TH-119 stands ready to serve.’
Having won a MH-139 contract in partnership with Boeing for the US Air Force’s Huey replacement in September, Leonardo are seeking to secure another major piece of rotary business with the DoD, and will look to its Philadelphia production base to complete TH-119 manufacturing in the event of winning the TH-73A acquisition.
The aircraft is a military variant of the AW119, currently in service with 40 countries and designed as an ideal solution for autorotations, maritime SAR procedures and shipboard operations, according to the company.
Should Bell’s competitor aircraft – the 407GXi – be selected by the navy, production is set to take place at the company’s Ozark, Alabama facilities.
The manufacturer has previously said that the helicopter is a ‘low risk’ solution for the navy, while a transition to it from the older Sea Ranger would enable a ‘streamlining [of] instructor pilot’ training.
Bell also confirmed in August 2019 that the 407 global fleet had amassed six million flight hours.
The company had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication. Naval Air Station Whiting Field, Florida, conducts US Navy pilot training. (Source: Shephard)
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