DMT suite delivery for Hornet is planned for June 2004

The US Navy has selected L-3 Communications to provide a distributed mission training (DMT) system for the Boeing F/A-18C Hornet fighter - the first DMT suite for the navy.

L-3's EER and Link Simulation & Training divisions competed against Boeing for the multi-million dollar contract. The first suite, comprising four linked F/A-18C trainers each within a nine-facet, 360° field-of-view SimuSphere visual display system, two debriefing rooms, a mission operations centre and a missions trainer, is scheduled to be delivered to NAS Oceana, Virginia - home to the USN's Atlantic Fleet strike wing - in June 2004. Any one of the flight trainers will be able to operate individually or in any combination involving the other three.

Included in the contract is an option to build a second four-set suite to be delivered to NAS Lemoore, California. This contract is expected to be finalised in the next 18 months. The two suites would be linked for long-haul network training.

L-3 programme manager Robert Thomas says that the ultimate goal would be to integrate the DMT system trainers with other Navy aircraft simulators and possibly with US Air Force aircraft systems as well. The DMT concept is viewed as a key medium for mission rehearsal by joint and coalition forces as well as a core element of the work-up of US expeditionary forces.

While the USAF has DMTs provided by Boeing for F-15C networked training and by Lockheed Martin for F-16 training, this contract marks the navy's first step into DMT. "This is the first one out of the shoe," says Thomas. "The navy is doing everything for the big plan."

L3 has built and provided all F/A-18 trainers to date, not just for the USN, but also for operators in Australia, Finland, Kuwait, Malaysia and Switzerland.

"We have a 20-year legacy in this area," says Thomas. "Anybody else would have had to start from scratch."

Source: Flight International