This blog is the last in a series of three, examining the trailblazing Platform Enabled Training Capability (PETC) that QinetiQ and Inzpire - and now joined by BAE Systems - trialled for the Royal Navy, resulting in complex live and simulated training scenarios delivered via the ship’s own combat management systems, and virtually indistinguishable from live warfare.
In this blog, we focus on how the training is deployed and evaluated. Our first blog, ‘QinetiQ and Inzpire – Partnering for Innovation’ provides a general overview of PETC, and the second, ‘Pioneering design to support mission objectives’ examines the cutting-edge design phase.
Testing and Rehearsal
Having designed and built the appropriate training solution, and reviewed and refined it to incorporate input from the Royal Navy, we progress to the testing and rehearsal stage. Partnering with BAE Systems to further embed the capabilities into the platform systems, we have been able to develop enhancements to the onboard capabilities, as well as enable the connectivity of multiple platforms at one time, to enable interoperability.
The aim is always to enable effective mission rehearsal that will improve operational readiness at the point of need. By taking the synthetic environment and adding some engineering innovation from QinetiQ and BAE Systems, we can implement a digital shadow of the ship’s combat management system and combat system’s equipment, achieving accurate safe simulation without interfering with the live systems, ensuring very high levels of realism for the training audience.
We provide comprehensive briefing materials to the ship’s teams to enable them to immerse into realistic operational situations. Simultaneously, our engineers will board the ship to access the trainees’ consoles – testing all the equipment to ensure everything is running smoothly.
QinetiQ and BAE Systems’ engineering competency in adapting technology across three ships, coupled with Inzpire’s exercise design and delivery expertise, makes for a unique and powerful combination. The comprehensive pre-exercise briefing materials created during the design phase, set the tone and help to ensure the trainees know what they are likely to encounter as they go into theatre.
Ensuring the training output is effective requires the training audience to feel fully immersed in the scenario. Achieving this high level of realism involves careful preparation of the simulations to be utilised live on board and the ability to inject additional aspects for the trainees to respond to or fight against, during the exercise.
It’s not just the simulation that creates a convincing scenario however. If, for example, the training is designed to support a mission in the Strait of Hormuz, the trainees need to feel as if they are actually in the Strait and being deployed for real. This requires the provision of an appropriate level of training resource.
Inzpire’s White Force comprises a blend of military and civilian personnel. We tailor the team to suit the exercise and to ensure the right experience is available to competently provide immersive and accurate training scenarios that are true to the type of scenario the trainees are likely to face in reality.
Throughout the exercise, the Inzpire team will operate remotely from an exercise control facility based at Portsdown Technology Park. This reduces personnel on board the ship to a minimum while allowing naval organisations such as Fleet Operational Standards and Training (FOST) to deliver training to the ship’s teams. Close liaison between FOST and exercise control ensures that the scenarios can be flexed to meet areas of training focus during delivery. In more complex exercise settings and when appropriate, the White Force can be augmented by a representative on board who acts as liaison between the various training components.
Our team is on-hand throughout to support the delivery of the training scenarios. We will provide a full suite of operational staff to immerse the ship’s teams into the political and operational situation, well in advance of the start of training. Our team will then continue to provide support to the command and warfare teams, to answer emergent requests for information or clarify areas of uncertainty.
Having agreed a pre-determined start and end time with the customer, we will control the event from the Portsdown facility which is geared to provide the tactical data link and communications circuits required for complex warfare training events. The synthetic environment created is already extremely realistic, but the key to successful immersion is the real-world communication that accompanies the training vignettes. Each vignette has been carefully designed to ensure operations room personnel can interact and work together as a team. In addition, by constantly providing the trainees with new information and interacting with them via data, voice, message and/or the simulation ground system, we can draw out actions by individual trainees, showing how they affect the command-and-control output and thereby allowing assessment of individual performance as well as collective. This can be brought out to great effect in debrief by replaying video links of key events and allowing the teams to discuss their actions and decisions. The result is a highly immersive experience for the trainees, who are responding to events as they occur, exactly as they would if a warfare situation was unfolding.
Analysing the results
A typical military debrief often involves an instructor standing at the front of a room telling the trainees what they did right and where they went wrong. The PETC After Action Review (AAR) was developed to switch the focus from the training lead to the training participants. Each debrief incorporates significant input from the trainees and is carefully planned and orchestrated. Everything that takes place during PETC is recorded. We monitor every action and each voice communication, enabling us to refer trainees back to the recording of a particular exchange during the debrief, to help explain the situation from their perspective.
This unique debriefing method is highly effective. We encourage the trainees to think through their actions and communicate why they came to a particular decision and opted to take a specific action. The process is carefully structured and managed and centred around an open discussion to consider why things worked out well or why they didn’t go as intended. Participants feel empowered and not concerned about the impact of negative points, and evidence shows that the technique elicits significant advances in training outcomes.
PETC delivery – anytime, anywhere
Our growing pool of vignettes covers a broad range of scenarios, which allows us to adapt them at speed to address urgent training needs. A two-or-three-hour mission rehearsal can potentially be constructed and ready to plug into the ship’s training system for delivery in as little as 48 hours. It doesn’t matter where in the world the ship is, the training can be delivered in transit or immediately prior to the start of the mission that PETC has been designed to rehearse.
Contact us at TMR@QinetiQ.com to learn more about our Platform Enabled Training Capability (PETC).