Eurofighter simulators will be provided under the four-nation Aircrew Synthetic Training Aids (ASTA) programme. ASTA was signed in April last year following drawn-out negotiations, during which the concept came close to collapse, with the UK threatening to withdraw and develop a national solution. An integrated product team hosted by EADS Germany, comprising the four Eurofighter partner companies and ESS, is managing the programme. ESS is another consortium comprising CAE/STN Atlas from Germany, Spain's Indra, Meteor from Italy and the UK's Thales Training and Simulation.

ASTA will provide training facilities, and in some countries the instructors, as well as the training devices. Three types of flight simulator will be provided: full mission simulators (FMS) with dome visual systems; cockpit trainer and interactive pilot station-enhanced (CT/IPS-E); and deployable cockpit trainers (DCT). Only the UK has ordered the latter.

These simulators will be linked via a network allowing pilots to train against adversaries or as packages of aircraft. For ground crew training, ASTA will provide PC-based desktop trainers, a maintenance simulator and a crew escape and safety systems trainer.

Karl-Heinz Stenner, Eurofighter ASTA team leader, says all training devices will have a common architecture, shared software and, "where practicable", common hardware. He adds that simulators will be upgraded in parallel with the Eurofighter receiving modifications by using the aircraft's software. The team will deliver 18 FMS, nine CPT/IPS-Es, four DCTs and ancillary devices, says Stenner, as well as provide five years of in-service support. As well as the training devices, each nation will have an ASTA data preparation facility (ADPF), which will include a database generation system, lesson planning and scenario generation and a training management information system, which will be used to track each pilot's progression through the syllabus. Stenner adds that further support facilities and systems will be located alongside the simulators at each main operating base.

ASTA deliveries are still some distance away, with the first device, a CT/IPS-E, not due for delivery until April 2004. The first FMS is due for handover six months later. In May 2005, the first updated CT/IPS-E will be delivered. The last device, also a cockpit trainer, will be handed over six years after the first, in April 2010. Planning calls for the DCTs to be delivered to the UK from late 2006.

Stenner says Italy will locate two FMSs at each of its main operating bases, Grosseto in Tuscany, Gioia del Golle in southern Italy and Trapani on Sicily, while a CT/IPS-E will be located at Grosseto and the ADPF will be at Pratica di Mare. He adds that Germany will locate an FMS and a CT/IPS-E at each of its main operating bases (see main story), with the data preparation facility at Büchel. Spain, says Stenner, will distribute its ASTA assets between Moron - which will have the ADPF, an FMS and CT/IPS-E - and Albacete, where a dome simulator and CT/IPS-E will be located. The Royal Air Force will locate its ADPF, two FMSs and two CPT/IPS-Es at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire, while RAF Leeming in Yorkshire and RAF Leuchars in Scotland will each receive two FMSs and two DCTs.

Source: Flight International