High user demand for a Farnborough-based networked decision support and training facility has prompted joint programme partner Boeing to propose establishing similar such capabilities in India and South Korea, says Shane Arnott, facility manager of "The Portal".

Opened at the site by Boeing and Qinetiq in mid-2007, the jointly funded battlelab has since played host to more than 130 training events, including a 16 July demonstration on the sidelines of the Farnborough show. This saw the facility's systems networked with other Qinetiq sites in the UK, and with surveillance aircraft, manned fighter and attack helicopter training devices at Boeing's Long Beach, Philadelphia, Seattle and St Louis sites in the USA.

Users of The Portal are able to support assessments of new equipment, or to test new concepts of operation during such networked exercises, and have so far included customers such as BAE Systems, dstl, MBDA and the UK Ministry of Defence. The UK facility has also previously been used to conduct analysis of the Royal Australian Air Force's transition to the Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornet and retirement of the General Dynamics F-111 strike aircraft.

"The idea of us doing this is to create better systems," says Arnott. "We are not a training house we develop capabilities here."

Boeing hopes that a comparable facility in India could support the nation's assessment of candidates for an air force fleet of at least 126 medium multirole combat aircraft a contest that includes its Super Hornet design. Arnott says the company has identified a timescale of "12 to 32 months" to open new sites in Asia, with India and South Korea eyed as early host nations. "And we are looking for others," he adds.

Source: Flight International