Networks of cheaper, better and more relevant military simulators are improving training

The steady evolution of military flight simulation towards more capable, but less expensive devices that can be networked and deployed to provide more realistic and relevant training has continued over the last 12 months.

Almost a year ago, the US Air Force began using the TRW-developed distributed mission training (DMT) network, which ties together high-fidelity flight simulators over a high-speed fibre-optic network. The initial network linked together four-simulator Boeing F-15C mission training centres at Eglin AFB in Florida and Langley AFB in Virginia, and Boeing E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System training consoles at Tinker AFB in Oklahoma.

In July, Lockheed Martin began installing the first four-ship F-16C mission training centre at Shaw AFB in North Carolina. Other sites are being connected to the network as part of the incremental expansion of DMT. Near-term plans call for Boeing RC-135 Rivet Joint electronic-intelligence and Northrop Grumman E-8 JSTARS battlefield-surveillance platforms to be added, along with Boeing F-15E strike fighter, Fairchild A-10 attack aircraft and Northrop Grumman B-2 bomber simulators.

Ultimately the DMT network will be expanded to include mission training centres for USAF special-operations aircraft, unmanned air vehicles and space assets, as well as US Navy strike fighters and jamming platforms. The distributed mission training concept is planned to be a key medium for mission rehearsal by joint and coalition forces as well as a core element of the work-up of USAF air expeditionary forces.

Deployability is a key feature of the US Marine Corps aviation simulation master plan, under which prime contractor Lockheed Martin is supplying a suite of transportable trainers. UK and US army aviation are taking delivery of deployable simulators for the Boeing AH-64D Longbow Apache. Lower-cost, smaller footprint unit-level training devices that can be co-located with squadrons are also becoming more widespread than traditional large-diameter dome simulators for training fast-jet pilots.

Expensive high-fidelity, fixed-site flight simulators are still finding a place in schoolhouses, where the concentration of training allows the increasing visual realism made possible by the latest generation of image generators to be used to best effect. This is particularly true in the case of rotorcraft, which are difficult to simulate, requiring highly realistic visual and motion cueing for effective training.

Source: Flight International