Innovative distributed training exercise links UK, US and European facilities for the first time
QinetiQ and Boeing, leaders of Team ACTIVE (Aircrew Collective Training through Immersive Virtual Events), have achieved the first ever link-up between the US Distributed Mission Operations (DMO) Network aircrew training system and simulation facilities overseas. Exercise ‘Avenging Eagle’ was the culmination of the 30 month Mission Training through Distributed Simulation Capability Concept Demonstrator (MTDS CCD) programme. The exercise connected flight simulators distributed throughout the US, UK and Europe, to deliver realistic operational training to diverse military aircrews.
“The CCD facility signals the future of synthetic mission training,” said General Sir Kevin O’Donoghue, Chief of Defence Materiel. “Such a capability will allow us to make even better use of our opportunities for live training.”
Tornado, Typhoon, E3 Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) and Forward Air Control simulators located at RAF Waddington in the UK were linked to A10 aircraft simulators in Spangdahlem, Germany; F-16 aircraft simulators at the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) in Arizona; F-15 aircraft simulators at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia; and AWACS simulators at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma. The participants were able to plan, brief, execute and debrief the mission, and review their learning experience, within the same virtual synthetic environment.
“Exercise ‘Avenging Eagle’ was an excellent opportunity to use simulators for coalition training," said Capt. Richard Ward, 390th Fighter Squadron, Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. "This is something that is usually cost exclusive and available only at red flag exercises. The more aircraft we can link, the better the training opportunity for improving both British and US capabilities."
The UK MOD initiated the MTDS CCD programme to lower risks and capture requirements for any future MTDS capability. The programme staged nine events, of varying complexity, over the past 30 months, drawing from a wide range of air assets and operational scenarios. Exercise ‘Avenging Eagle’ was designed to prove that US and UK mission training systems could be linked from a technical, security and political perspective.
“Each event has taken our understanding to an ever higher level,” said Tony Jones, vice president, Boeing Training Systems and Services. “The UK approach to MTDS is very different to the US distributed mission operations approach and it’s great to see how both solutions can work together to deliver outstanding operational training to all participants.”
The programme has succeeded in demonstrating the benefits of training in a large scale networked synthetic environment, even for experienced instructors and role players. It has also identified a unique role in providing training on working with Air Power for UK Army Fire Support Teams and Fire Planning Cells. One additional programme success was its use to prove ships and aircraft can train together synthetically as RAF Waddington was linked to naval training systems at HMS Dryad. The programme has also demonstrated that UK MTDS would be able to involve existing training simulators, such as the Aviation Training International Ltd AH-64 attack helicopter simulators, in the UK and in large international training events.
“MTDS CCD is only the beginning,” concluded Clive Richardson, chief operating officer for QinetiQ’s Europe, Middle East and Australian operations. “We are extremely keen to see the UK and other nations improve their mission training capabilities by acquiring networked simulation facilities. Not only could such a solution deliver important operational training to existing forces it could also be used to help understand the impact of future upgrades to equipment at an early conceptual stage. We will continue to work closely with our prospective customers to expand further the overall scope and potential of networked simulation to achieve these goals.”
Team ACTIVE, established to deliver the MTDS CCD programme, is led by QinetiQ and includes Boeing, cueSim, Rockwell Collins, Aviation Training International Ltd and HVR Consulting.