Air crew training through distributed simulation enters experimental stage

May 22, 2007 A fascinating project to train military aircrews is currently entering the experimental phase in the UK, with front line Royal Air Force (RAF) aircrew now involved in the UK Mission Training through Distributed Simulation – Capability Concept Demonstrator (MTDS – CCD) programme. The experimental phase involves a series of events that are designed to show how pilots and other forces can exercise simultaneously on both sides of the Atlantic in the same multi aircraft combat scenarios, where the emphasis is on tactical operations not basic flying skills.

Being delivered by Team ACTIVE (Aircrew Collective Training through Immersive Virtual Events), such events are designed to prove that such a facility could be used for training, research purposes, technology assessment or equipment demonstration.

The UK MTDS CCD facility includes four Tornado GR4 cockpits and four Typhoon cockpits plus a seven-seat Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) capability, all linked into a comprehensive exercise management, planning, briefing and debriefing facility. The system has also been integrated with Aviation Training International Ltd’s Apache training simulators. These can be connected into similar assets at the US Air Force Research Laboratory at Mesa, Arizona and other sites and typically includes F-16 and A10 simulators and AWACS aircraft. Simulators manned by forward air controllers can also be integrated, along with additional synthetic aircraft and ground vehicles provided by role players and computer generated forces at both locations. All systems are linked together over a secure wide area network.

“In just 10-months an empty hangar has been transformed into a sophisticated, networked, state of the art demonstration of future aircrew training, exercise management and control,” explained Neville Salkeld, MD of QinetiQ’s MOD Support business. “We are delighted at how the industry team worked together to produce an exciting facility based on ‘best-of-class’ technology from across the simulation industry that showed how mature technology could be used to improve military effectiveness.”

Kevin Williams, Programme Manager MTDS CCD added: “Initial trials with front line RAF and US aircrew have gone extremely well and we are demonstrating the benefits of developing and using the facility to deliver training to a wider audience than we originally expected along with progressively addressing the MOD’s risk areas.”

Over the coming months, Team ACTIVE will continue to enhance the capability of the RAF Waddington facility based on the experience of previous events. Government negotiations continue on linking the UK facility into the US Distributed Mission Operations network.

"In the contemporary operating environment, joint and coalition operations are crucial," said Tony Jones, vice president for Boeing's Training Systems and Services division. "The MTDS facility at RAF Waddington is exploring technologies and methodologies to increase warfighter readiness while demonstrating training value in the collective, joint and coalition domains."

Mark Corden for the Flight Simulation and Synthetic Trainers Integrated Project Team concluded: “This solution brings together existing technology and innovation and we are now analysing initial results. The UK MTDS CCD is designed to explore the potential of available technology and to determine whether it could have a role in meeting a capability requirement.”

The UK MTDS CCD programme is being delivered by Team ACTIVE (Aircrew Collective Training through Immersive Virtual Events). Team ACTIVE is led by QinetiQ and includes Boeing, cueSim Ltd, Aviation Training International Ltd, Rockwell Collins and HVR Consulting Ltd.

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