CAE has been selected as prime contractor for the US Army's Special Operations Forces Aviation Training and Rehearsal Systems (ASTARS) programme. Initially, the Canadian company's US subsidiary will provide a combat mission simulator for the McDonnell Douglas AH/MH-6 Little Bird helicopters operated by the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment at Ft Campbell, Kentucky.

Later phases of the ASTARS programme will expand the capability of the AH/MH-6 simulator, network the device with Boeing MH-47K and Sikorsky MH-60G simulators at Ft Campbell and provide other training and mission rehearsal systems, says John Lenyo, president of Tampa, Florida-based CAE USA, the former Reflectone unit acquired from BAE Systems last year.

The C$50 million ($31 million) simulator, to be delivered in mid-2004, will feature six-axis motion base, three-axis vibration platform and a dome visual display providing a 270° horizontal by 90° vertical field of view. Lockheed Martin TopScene photorealistic image generation, used by the 160th for mission rehearsal and being retrofitted to the MH-47 and MH-60 devices, will be integrated.

Lenyo says a second phase will add olfactory and wind cues to the simulator, as the AH/MH-6s are flown with the doors off and smell and wind direction are important to the crew. "We have a concept for 'smell-o-vision'," he says. Ultimately, Lenyo says, the 160th wants an integrated training system similar to CAE's Medium Support Helicopter Aircrew Training Facility in the UK.

CAE, meanwhile, is bidding for a contract to update all US Army CH-47 and UH-60 simulators with new host computers and visual systems. Award is expected next month, says Lenyo.

Source: Flight International