First connection of 51 Sqn Mission Crew Training System to Air Battlespace Training Centre

Between 4-15 September 2017, we enabled the 51 Sqn Rivet Joint (RJ) Mission Crew Training System (MCTS), housed at RAF Waddington, to connect for the first time to the Air Battlespace Training Centre (ABTC).

RAF Rivet Joint RC-135W signals intelligence aircraft taking off from RAF Waddington

This allowed the crew to participate in Exercise VIRTUAL FURY, an air-centric training exercise designed to allow the Typhoon Force to train in a complex battlespace.

In previous iterations of the exercise, 51 Sqn have provided augmentees to support the overall exercise by roleplaying their roles from within the ABTC. This time they have been able to participate from their own simulator, enhancing the training their personnel receive from this exercise.

Wing Commander ‘Ruth’ Rendall, Officer Commanding ABTC, emphasised the importance of this training method: “51 Sqn has always provided expert individual support for Exercise VIRTUAL FURY, but having a full mission crew take-part has really improved collaboration and collective learning. We will aim to connect 51 Sqn for all future VIRTUAL FURY exercises.”

This is not the first time QinetiQ have integrated a remote simulator into Exercise VIRTUAL FURY – the Royal Navy’s Maritime Composite Training System and Sea King Airborne Surveillance and Control simulations are among the most recent – however, this has been one of the quickest integration efforts. Planning for this exercise only started some nine weeks ahead of the exercise, which was run with only one week of integration activity scheduled. The ability to do this is as a result of the extensive experience QinetiQ has in the distributed training domain.

DSALT Programme Technical Lead, Deborah Kearse, has highlighted the importance of this experience: “The ability to integrate a remote site into the ABTC is something that QinetiQ has been perfecting for over 10 years through the Mission Training through Distributed Simulation Capability Concept Demonstrator and follow-on Distributed Synthetic Air Land Training Programme.  Although each remote site brings different challenges, our continuous improvement approach has enabled us to streamline the integration effort at each iteration, reducing the time and effort required. Our experienced delivery team is critical to our success as they bring to bear their extensive knowledge, leveraging lessons learned from previous events for the benefit of the new exercise.”

DSALT Service Delivery Project Manager, Derek Jacob, was very clear that the collective whole force approach played an important part in the success of this exercise: “The working relationships developed between QinetiQ, Inzpire and the Royal Air Force meant that we could collectively address issues as they materialised; the strengths of each party have paid dividends, enabling the exercises to develop on a daily basis and clearly demonstrate the worth of this approach”.

This is further emphasized by the 51 Sqn Project Officer: “The collaboration between QinetiQ, the ‘Big Safari’ team and L3 Communications has been exceptional.  The project has been a complete success with impressive results in an unprecedented time”.

Feedback from this exercise has been extremely positive and it has been deemed a success – we are now looking forward to the next time 51 Sqn can connect to the ABTC.

Wing Commander Simon Cloke, Officer Commanding 51 Squadron: “This exercise has not only proven the UKRJ MCTS connection to the ABTC, it has also provided an answer to the deficit in achieving our annual tactical training objectives.  Already we are looking to future ABTC exercises to work Rivet Joint interoperability challenges and further evolve our TTP development.  This has been an extremely successful start to 51 Squadron's distributed synthetic training programme in the UK.”