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SPECIAL REPORT

Advances in MIlitary Driving and Aviation Simulator Technology

Benefits of Reconfigurable Driving Simulators Cost Versus Reward: Rethinking Military Training How to Make the Most of Vehicle Simulators Sponsored by

Reconfigurable Simulators Hold the Key to the Future The Future of Vehicle Simulators

Published by Global Business Media


ADVANCES IN MILITARY DRIVING AND AVIATION SIMULATOR TECHNOLOGY

SPECIAL REPORT

Advances in MIlitary Driving and Aviation Simulator Technology

Contents Foreword 2 Tom Cropper, Editor

Benefits of Reconfigurable Driving Simulators Benefits of Reconfigurable Driving Simulators Cost Versus Reward: Rethinking Military Training How to Make the Most of Vehicle Simulators Sponsored by

Reconfigurable Simulators Hold the Key to the Future The Future of Vehicle Simulators

Published by Global Business Media

The Staff of FAAC Incorporated

The Common Simulator Structure Economic Benefits of Reconfigurable Designs as Compared to Single Vehicle Simulators

Published by Global Business Media

Operational Benefits of Reconfigurable Designs

Global Business Media Limited 62 The Street Ashtead Surrey KT21 1AT United Kingdom

Up-Front Considerations Needed to Maximize the Benefits of

Switchboard: +44 (0)1737 850 939 Fax: +44 (0)1737 851 952 Email: info@globalbusinessmedia.org Website: www.globalbusinessmedia.org

Cost Versus Reward: Rethinking Military Training

Publisher Kevin Bell

Slimmed Down Training

Business Development Director Marie-Anne Brooks Editor Tom Cropper

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Reconfigurable Simulators

8

Tom Cropper, Editor

Cost Cutting Going Digital

How to Make the Most of Vehicle Simulators

10

Jo Roth, Staff Writer

Senior Project Manager Steve Banks

Assessing the Cost

Advertising Executives Michael McCarthy Abigail Coombes

The Importance of Fidelity Movement and Teamwork

Production Manager Paul Davies

Reconfigurable Simulators Hold the Key to the Future 12

For further information visit: www.globalbusinessmedia.org The opinions and views expressed in the editorial content in this publication are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily represent the views of any organisation with which they may be associated. Material in advertisements and promotional features may be considered to represent the views of the advertisers and promoters. The views and opinions expressed in this publication do not necessarily express the views of the Publishers or the Editor. While every care has been taken in the preparation of this publication, neither the Publishers nor the Editor are responsible for such opinions and views or for any inaccuracies in the articles.

James Butler, Staff Writer

Taking Simulators to the Next Level Reconfigurable Simulators Realism and Flexibility

The Future of Vehicle Simulators

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Tom Cropper, Editor

Advancing Technology Artificial Intelligence

References 16

Š 2018. The entire contents of this publication are protected by copyright. Full details are available from the Publishers. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner. Cover photo - USS AMERICA LHA6 (photo courtesy of Huntington Ingalls Industries) WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM | 1


ADVANCES IN MILITARY DRIVING AND AVIATIONNEXT SIMULATOR TECHNOLOGY GENERATION HELMET MOUNTED LIGHTING SOLUTIONS FOR MODERN MILITARY OPERATIONS

Foreword I

N 2011 a young driver, Jan Mardenborough,

Elsewhere in the report James Butler will take a

lined up as part of the Nissan team for the

closer look at some of the latest reconfigurable

Dubai 24 Hours. Unlike his competitors, though,

products on the market and their role in taking training

Mardenborough had never seriously raced until that

to the next level.

year. Instead he got his driving education through a computer game, Gran Turismo.

We will also investigate the financial pressures facing the army. As governments seek to control budgets,

Since then Mardenborough has gone on to race

they are reducing live training hours. But, while this

around the world. For the makers of the game it’s a

saves money, it leaves the army dangerously under-

fantastic marketing tool – physical proof of just how

prepared. The hope is that vehicle simulators can be

realistic their game has become.

realistic enough to replicate some of that practical

Technology which can help gamers can also

experience in a more affordable way.

be invaluable for the army. Vehicle simulators are

Jo Roth will then examine some of the factors buyers

becoming more sophisticated and more realistic.

will be considering when choosing a system, before

However, the value the army gets from them depends

we cast our eyes to the future. Such has been the

largely on how they are deployed.

speed with which technology has already changed

Our opening article comes from one of the leading

the game that it can be difficult to see what’s coming

manufacturers of simulators, FAAC Incorporated. They

next. We’ll look at where the technology stands at the

have supplied vehicle and aviation training simulators

moment and where it might be heading.

to armies all over the world. They talk about the need for reconfigurable simulators which can accurately represent all vehicles used by the military.

Tom Cropper Editor

Tom Cropper has produced articles and reports on various aspects of global business over the past 15 years. He has also worked as a copywriter for some of the largest corporations in the world, including ING, KPMG and the World Wildlife Fund.

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ADVANCES IN MILITARY DRIVING AND AVIATION SIMULATOR TECHNOLOGY

Defense Cuts and a New Age of Aircraft Health Monitoring The Staff of FAAC Incorporated

Reconfigurable driving simulators can provide economical and operational benefits, but key design considerations must be determined early in order to realize the benefits of simulation training while maximizing the return on investment.

W

HEN VEHICLE procurement, maintenance, logistics and repair costs required to support a live training program are accounted for over time, there is little argument that virtual driver training can be conducted safer and at a lower cost. In addition, simulation provides a more complete operational experience to trainees covering geographic, environmental, and emergency conditions not possible with a live vehiclebased curriculum. As organizations seek to improve readiness and reduce driving incidents, they are increasingly seeking driving simulators capable of being reconfigured to provide training for more than one vehicle variant, or a single vehicle that might have multiple configurations, such as manual and automatic transmissions, to maximize their return on investment.

The Common Simulator Structure Reconfigurable simulators are composed of a common simulator structure (CSS), usually comprised of a display system and mounting structure, computational systems, motion cueing system and instructor operator station (IOS). These components typically act as fixed infrastructure. Reconfiguration is achieved through a combination of three different methods associated with the vehicle cabin(s). In all cases, vehicle software is configured to represent the particular vehicle involved, impacting elements such as dynamics, visual representation, force feedback steering, instrumentation and controls, audio, and motion system. The three methods of reconfiguration include: 1. Interchangeable Cabins: Interchanging vehicle cabins into and out of the CSS. This offers the ability to maintain the highest level

INTERCHANGEABLE VEHICLE CABIN SWAP

of hardware fidelity as each cabin may only be required to support one vehicle type. This means of reconfiguration is often used for combat vehicles or other vehicles that have a unique layout that benefit from training spatial awareness and muscle memory based training tasks. Assuming the cabin is designed to replicate a specific vehicle, there are no competing requirements, so each component can provide the highest positional, form and functional fidelity. The interchanging of cabins typically takes 30 minutes. 2. Reconfigurable Cabins: Reconfiguration by interchanging cabin components such as instrument and control panels, steering wheels, transmission shift controls, reconfiguring the brake system for simulating air or standard automotive braking, and adding window restrictors to simulate smaller window openings when applicable (typically armored vehicles). This means of reconfiguration is often used for trucks, which have a similar cabin layout and sitting position, but vary in the layout, type, and complexity of instrumentation and controls. These WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM | 3


ADVANCES IN MILITARY DRIVING AND AVIATION SIMULATOR TECHNOLOGY

As organizations seek to improve readiness and reduce driving incidents, they are increasingly seeking driving simulators capable of being reconfigured to provide training for more than one vehicle variant, or a single vehicle that might have multiple configurations

INTERCHANGEABLE DASH SETS FOR RECONFIGURABLE TRUCK CABIN.

cabins are designed to be generic in nature to support multiple vehicles and sometimes require minor tradeoffs in positional fidelity, such as the location of pedals and the driver’s sitting position, while some instruments may need a minor shift in location. This approach emulates rather than duplicates the ergonomics of the cabin interior while incorporating enough fidelity in the configurable items to convey a particular variant. The internal reconfiguration of a cabin is usually accomplished in less than 15 minutes.

SOFTWARE RECONFIGURATION OF GLASS INSTRUMENT PANEL.

3. Software Reconfiguration: Reconfiguring a vehicle instrument panel through software only. This means of reconfiguration is used most often

for simulating a standard class of automobiles, similar in design and size, with similar sitting positions and controls; however, instrumentation can vary considerably. These types of simulators often use an open student training station rather than enclosed cabin, further reducing reliance on hardware-based solutions and further reducing cost and footprint. Doors, windows and windshield openings are depicted in the visual displays. This method of reconfiguration works best when software reconfiguration is limited to instrumentation and rarely used switches and controls. Switches and controls that are used often should be maintained as a hardware component to assist in student familiarization and in locating them by feel during driving operations. Software reconfiguration is rapid, occurring within moments of the proper selection at the IOS. These are not mutually exclusive configurations of driving simulators; they can be combined. A reconfigurable cabin can also be used as an interchangeable cabin within a CSS and, in addition, can incorporate a graphically displayed instrument panel as well as reconfigurable hardware components.

Economic Benefits of Reconfigurable Designs as Compared to Single Vehicle Simulators Significant cost savings can be achieved through the use of reconfigurable driving simulators; however, it must be pointed out that initial fielding costs are similar to that of a vehiclespecific driving simulator, due primarily to the fact that initial costs include the CSS portion of the simulator as well as the first vehicle variant. Significant reductions in design and production time and costs are realized when adding followon vehicle variants. The table below provides the estimated relative cost to add a follow-on variant expressed as a percentage of estimated original fielding cost for each of the three types of reconfigurable simulators listed above. Regardless of the means of reconfiguration, adding a new vehicle requires expenditure for software development associated only with unique IOS functions, visual models and

Means of Reconfiguration

Initial Unit Design Percentage of Initial Cost required and Production Cost to Field a Follow-On Variant

CSS with Interchangeable Cabins (High-Fidelity Vehicle Specific Cabin)

$500,000 - $600,000

40-60%

CSS with Reconfigurable Cabin (Generic Cabin / Reconfigurable Components)

$350,000 - $500,000

20-40%

Simulator with Software $100,000 - $200,000 Reconfiguration Only (Open STS with Graphical Instrument Panel)

10-20%

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ADVANCES IN MILITARY DRIVING AND AVIATION SIMULATOR TECHNOLOGY

vehicle dynamics, with the primary cost driver being design and production of reconfigurationunique hardware. Depending on student throughput requirements, the flexibility attained with reconfigurable driving simulators generally reduces the total number of simulators, or CSS(s), required by an organization to meet its training needs, saving a large portion of the initial unit costs above. Additionally, fewer simulators results in reduced funds required for logistics and construction of new facilities or modification of existing facilities.

Operational Benefits of Reconfigurable Designs In addition to the economic benefits, reconfigurable driving simulators can also provide positive impacts on meeting training requirements. The reduced fielding times for interchangeable and especially reconfigurable cabin kits, increase the military’s ability to respond to emerging events and unforeseen critical driver training requirements. Examples of this include the urgent need for driver training requirements experienced by the US Marine Corps in Iraq and Afghanistan with the reactive and rapid fielding of Up-Armored High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWVs) to better protect occupants from direct fire, followed by the fielding of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles for additional protection from buried or roadside improvised explosive devices (IEDs). The drastic increase in weight and the higher center of gravity of these vehicles led to a significant increase in the incidence of vehicle roll-over and accidental collisions. The considerable weight (up to 50,000 lbs.) of MRAP vehicles became increasingly problematic, as many of the roads were not capable of handling this increased weight. Further complicating the situation, every up-armored HMMWV kit and every MRAP vehicle was sent directly from the manufacturers’ plants to the theatre of operations where they were most needed, resulting in no vehicles available to train drivers in the United States prior to deployment. Marines were unable to gain experience in operating these unique vehicles until they were in the theatre of operations. Reconfigurable driving simulators were used to bridge this training gap. The US Marine Corps was able to add an Up-Armored HMMWV kit (dash, transmission shifter, steering wheel and simulated window armor panels) with the associated software to their existing reconfigurable Operator Driving Simulators (ODS). These simulators were located at Marine Corps Operational and Reserve training sites to support initial sustainment and pre-deployment training. ODS reconfiguration kits were then added to support the Marines’ primary MRAP variant. In both cases, initial

fielding began only four months after contract award – a much more rapid fielding than could have been accomplished if an entire simulator had to be designed, manufactured, tested and fielded. The US Army reacted similarly with expedited deliveries of their reconfigurable Common Driver Trainer – MRAP Variant, which uses reconfigurable, interchangeable cabins. Reconfigurable driving simulators are a safe and cost-effective means for the military and government organizations involved with nation building operations in areas such as Afghanistan, where the use of automobiles is not as prevalent. Reconfigurable driving simulators can assist in training the local indigenous forces as well as the civilian populace how to safely operate motor vehicles. Lastly, Reconfigurable driving simulators increase flexibility in training by enabling a simulator to meet a broader range of training requirements, enabling different types of units and missions to be trained on a simulator. The US Army’s Virtual Clearance Training Suites (VCTS) is a suite of networked crew simulators designed initially to train combat engineers in the tasks associated with route clearance. Eight of these simulators are reconfigurable vehicle crew trainers, some with associated weapons. These simulators have also been used by transportation units, military police and others to conduct driver training, convoy procedures and security operations in a networked simulator environment.

Up-Front Considerations Needed to Maximize the Benefits of Reconfigurable Simulators To fully maximize the benefits associated with reconfigurable simulators, there are several factors that need to be considered up-front and early in the design of the overall system, especially the CSS and reconfigurable cabin. These early considerations are not applicable to simulators using software-based reconfiguration. The more information that is available regarding the existing and future training requirements, the higher the probability the reconfigurable simulator will be able to support the desired training and the benefits previously discussed can be realized. If these factors are not properly considered or information is lacking, it is likely that aspects of the simulator will need to be redesigned, modified, or may be unable to support a vehicle to the level desired or, possibly, at all. The CSS and reconfigurable cabins must be designed to support worst case scenarios to take account of the following factors: a. Vehicle Types: What types and which specific vehicles will the simulator need to support? The driver’s station in automobiles, trucks and combat vehicles all typically differ significantly from each WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM | 5


ADVANCES IN MILITARY DRIVING AND AVIATION SIMULATOR TECHNOLOGY

Depending on student throughput requirements, the flexibility attained with reconfigurable driving

other and can impact the number of cabin types and the means of reconfiguration required to adequately support training for all variants. Adding vehicles that were not originally planned for in the initial design can result in costly modifications or the need to add additional simulators possessing a different means of reconfiguration.

simulators generally reduces the total number of simulators, or CSS(s), required by an organization to meet its training needs, saving a large portion of the

requirements, projection system obstructions (if applicable), such as an open hatch or other vehicle parts. e. Configuration Range: When designing vehicle simulator cabins and CSS, it is helpful if the basic design can support a range of motion and visual solutions through minor configuration changes. This capability is important when fielding a driving simulator that is required to support both fixed site (facility) and mobile (trailer) operations. A mobile simulator with 3-DOF motion system design might require a minor modification to the cabin and potentially a modified visual display solution as compared to the same cabin fielded on a 6-DOF platform for fixed-site operations. Attempts should be made to plan in advance for modified configurations in order to avoid a situation of having to create an entirely new simulator design.

initial unit costs

REPLICATED STRYKER CABIN (TOP), REPRESENTATIVE MRAP TRUCK CABIN (BOTTOM).

b. Cabin Fidelity: What level of fidelity is considered appropriate and desired? Does the vehicle driver station need to replicate the vehicle or represent the vehicle? Absolute replication dictates the need for an interchangeable cabin design. Representation of a vehicle’s driver station can usually be satisfied through the more economical generic reconfigurable cabin with vehicle reconfiguration kits. c. Dimensions: Based on the vehicles expected to be supported, what are the worst case dimensions for cabin height, width and length? What weight and center of gravity combinations are required to be supported? An unplanned future cabin that exceeds these factors may not be supported by the CSS, especially visual display and motion cuing systems. d. Visual System: What visual requirements need to be supported for all variants? Some, but not all, factors include horizontal and vertical fields of view, distance and location of driver’s eyepoint, open/closed hatch requirements, mirror 6 | WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM

SINGLE GENERIC CABIN DESIGN SUPPORTING BOTH 6-DOF (TOP) AND 3-DOF (BOTTOM) MOTION SOLUTIONS

f. Provisioning: In the case of reconfigurable cabins, it is beneficial to know during cabin design the possible vehicles required to be supported by the cabin in order to properly configure and size the input/output (I/O) interface system. Although all I/O capacity might not be used by the initial vehicle variant, it is easier and more economical to ensure enough I/O capacity for the worst case scenario upon initial fielding rather than to design and complete I/O system modifications to cabins after they have been fielded.


ADVANCES IN MILITARY DRIVING AND AVIATION SIMULATOR TECHNOLOGY

6DOF CREW INTERIOR

g. Logistics: As usual, logistical considerations seem to always be considered last. In this case it is just listed last. In actuality they should be considered up front in the decision and design process. Space considerations for the driving simulators themselves are typically properly planned. Factors that sometimes are not considered up front include storage space and lifting equipment. This is most important in the case of interchangeable cabins, which can take up considerable floor space when not in use with the CSS. Additionally, the need at each operational site for lifting equipment such as a fork-lift can sometimes go unaccounted for. Additionally, the floor space required for maneuvering lifting equipment around the simulator CSS with and without a cabin, and around stored cabins is sometimes underestimated. Reconfigurable cabins typically have no need for lifting equipment on a routine basis and they typically require considerably less storage space; however, storage capability and space for all reconfigurable components must be accounted for. Storage can become a significant factor in mobile systems with limited interior storage space. Reconfigurable driving simulators can provide a significant return on investment, but considerable planning, consideration of options and a thorough understanding of requirements up front is necessary. This requires that training tasks for all

BUFFALO MRAP 6DOF CREW

vehicles anticipated to be simulated be identified and analyzed to determine the required level of fidelity for the cabin and sub-systems. Lacking this level of understanding increases the probability that costly post-fielding modifications will be required, or worse, the simulator is unable to fully support training for a follow-on vehicle. Spending the time required to properly plan a reconfigurable simulator’s design up front will pay off with each subsequent fielding.

Contact FAAC Incorporated 1229 Oak Valley Drive, Ann Arbor, MI Phone: (734) 761-5836 Fax: (734) 761-5368 Email: info@faac.com Website: www.faac.com

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ADVANCES IN MILITARY DRIVING AND AVIATION SIMULATOR TECHNOLOGY

Cost Versus Reward: Rethinking Military Training Tom Cropper, Editor

Flight and vehicle simulators offer high-tech solutions to the age-old demands of balancing the books.

The army must make its resources stretch as far as possible. As it searches for opportunities to save money, it is always tempting to cut back on training

I

N THE last few years military budgets have gone from feast to famine. As operations were scaled down in Iraq and Afghanistan, western governments looked to reduce military budgets. As a result, those tasked with managing budgets are keen to find any opportunity for cuts. One of the most common targets appears to be training, but those savings come at a cost. The more limited training is, the more difficult it becomes to maintain the readiness of units.

Cost Cutting Across the Western alliance, belts are being tightened. In the US, the Obama administration cut back on the military. The arrival of Donald Trump may have signaled a new approach in which he called for almost $700bn of additional defense spending, but money is still tight, and resources are at a premium1. In Europe, spending continues to be constrained. The majority of NATO members fall short of the target of spending at 2% of GDP, although, once again, there has recently been some movement. France has now announced new military spending designed to meet the 2% target by 20202. Germany has said it plans to spend an additional e1bn as it tries to address serious shortages in its military forces. The increases could see it bring its spending levels up to 1.5% – still short of NATO’s target and a long way short of Donald Trump’s desired target of 4%.3 This comes at a time when China and Russia have both been boosting their militaries and the geopolitical climate is becoming more volatile and difficult to predict. Iraq and Afghanistan have been replaced by Syria and the fight against ISIS. An increasingly aggressive Russia has prompted Europe to bolster its Eastern defenses once more. Royal Navy ships are operating off the Eastern coast of Africa to combat piracy and, in the Pacific, China and the US jostle for supremacy.

Slimmed Down Training The army must make its resources stretch as far 8 | WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM

as possible. As it searches for opportunities to save money, it is always tempting to cut back on training. Developing the skillsets of personnel is an incredibly resource-intensive process, particularly when it comes to live training exercises. The cost of equipment, personnel, logistics and administration make training exercises an expensive business. It is perhaps predictable, therefore, that live training is in decline. According to the Annual Assurance Report issued by the Defense Department, the majority of overseas helicopter training had to be cut due to a lack of funds in 2017. Such cuts will inevitably have an impact on the combat readiness of equipment and personnel, as the report confirms. “This resource driven reduction in activity already builds on reductions on the Commando Helicopter Force in 16/17,” it states, “and will effectively prevent helicopter air and ground crews from growing and, in some cases, establishing proficiency in operating in hot, high and desert environments4.” In September, The Times reported that battlefield training, along with two Royal Navy ships, would be axed in cuts5. The US Airforce has also cut the amount of training required for pilots to earn their wings by as much as five weeks, in a move which it hopes will help it replace departing veterans6. With the cost of fuel on the rise, vehicle training is likely to become even more unaffordable. But it’s not just money that has got military leaders worried. Training is risky. In June, for example, Japan halted training operations after one of its Eagle fighters crashed into the Ocean near Okinawa7. In May, an Airforce T38 Tallon crashed near Columbus Airforce base in Mississippi. Both pilots ejected safely8.

Going Digital Training may be risky and expensive, but it is still necessary. The global threat is evolving, and this is not a time to have an under-prepared fighting force. However, once training is scaled back, that’s the inevitable result. Pilots will lack airtime and drivers will be unfamiliar with their vehicles,


ADVANCES IN MILITARY DRIVING AND AVIATION SIMULATOR TECHNOLOGY

FAAC VCTS MRAP RG31 DRIVER COMMANDER SIMULATOR

they will lack the instinctive reactions live training brings and the ability to deal with complex, unpredictable situations. This leaves the country more vulnerable and also places personnel at greater risk when the time comes to engage in combat for real. The alternative is to increase the emphasis on vehicle simulation training and that is exactly what the army is doing. The Global Military Simulation and Virtual Training Market is expected to grow at 4% per year between 2017 and 2021. Rising threats around the world, says the report, are leading to an increase in the procurement of ships, aircraft and vehicles which boosts demand for training simulators9. Simulators replicate many of the benefits of live training. However, they have historically been expensive to buy and offered only limited levels

of realism. The gulf between a vehicle simulator and a combat environment was vast. However, digital technology is increasing the realism of simulations and is also expanding the range of combat scenarios trainees can undergo. They are still expensive, but the use of reconfigurable units makes it possible to use the same simulator to accurately reflect multiple vehicles. An evolving global environment means the demands being placed on military are growing and shifting. A tightening of the belt requires a rethink of how training works. New technologies create opportunities for immersive hyper-real simulations which place trainees into the heart of the action. It is a solution for the 21st century – one that relies on next generation technology and can save money while also increasing the effectiveness of combat training.

Digital technology is increasing the realism of simulations and is also expanding the range of combat scenarios trainees can undergo

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ADVANCES IN MILITARY DRIVING AND AVIATION SIMULATOR TECHNOLOGY

How to Make the Most of Vehicle Simulators Jo Roth, Staff Writer

Driving and aviation simulators have the potential to improve the effectiveness of training and save money, but only if the right technology is used in the right way.

Most experts agree that simulators cannot replace live training entirely, but questions remain on just how much training can be moved into the virtual realm

T

ECHNOLOGY OFFERS options across the military estate, so it should come as no surprise that it is also making its presence felt in training. As simulators become more advanced and realistic, they are making it possible to reduce the number of live training exercises. They are more affordable and, in some cases, can deliver an extremely realistic training experience. The question is: how much of a role should they play? Most experts agree that simulators cannot replace live training entirely, but questions remain on just how much training can be moved into the virtual realm.

Assessing the Cost The first issue to address is cost. Simulators are often promoted as offering a more affordable option compared to live exercises. It is true that live training is expensive and carries a risk to personnel. At the same time, the latest simulators also carry a high price. The calculation is on upfront cost set against ongoing savings. It is therefore important to assess how substantial those savings might be. First, we have to look at the costs of live exercises. US officials calculate that the cost of the recently cancelled joint training exercises with South Korea would have been $14million10. Of course, this was a large-scale exercise, involving a partner country, but even smaller scale exercises carry a substantial cost. A 2015 survey in the US also suggests simulators could potentially save millions. Although respondents broadly agreed that computer generated simulators could never completely replace live action training, simulations would be able to significantly reduce the amount of live training required. The savings, according to the survey, could be enormous. The Navy predicted it will save $119 million a year from 2020 by increasing virtual training for the MH-60 and F/A – 18 airplanes11. However, these figures are not set in stone. They depend on simulations being better and 10 | WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM

more effective than previously. The report also found that existing technologies had a number of drawbacks which prevented them realizing their full value. The most important of these was fidelity. In other words, they lacked the necessary realism of live training. The motion fails to emulate real-life vehicles, imaging is not good enough and constantly reminds the brain that it is essentially playing a video game.

The Importance of Fidelity Improving fidelity has been one of the main driving forces in the simulator market. It starts with the image, delivering crystal clear wrap-around graphics, giving users a feeling of being in the environment. It continues with any training program. Damage inflicted by incoming fire must be realistic, enemies must behave in as human-like a way as possible and situations must be true to life. The simulator must look like the interior of the vehicle, feel like it and move like it. It has to engage all the senses. Unfortunately, this is where many simulators fail. The market is full of exciting, visually appealing virtual reality simulators. It can be easy to become carried away by the hype. However, the downside of most products is a tendency to be impressed by what the technology can do rather than the results. Systems have become much more sophisticated with an ability to render all sorts of landscapes and program many different scenarios. There is always a temptation to show off the capabilities of the software but lose sights of the end results. At times it feels as if the army itself is falling into this trap. It’s easy to search the internet and find an article or video highlighting an exciting hightech approach to training. It begs the question: is this being done entirely for the benefit of troops or to present the image of a modern military at the forefront of technology? The answer, at times, can be both. The secret to developing an effective training strategy is much the same as most other operations. First, start with an end goal in mind


ADVANCES IN MILITARY DRIVING AND AVIATION SIMULATOR TECHNOLOGY

FAAC VCTS HUSKY SIMULATOR

– what the desired outcome is – and assess any technology against how successfully it can achieve that goal. There are several ways to improve fidelity. The first is the physical environment. Simulators which come with interchangeable cabins can be reconfigured to feel like the interior of multiple vehicle types. The more the infrastructure surrounding the trainee feels like the real thing, the more lessons learned during training simulations will be repeatable in live action. Others may use software to reconfigure the environment. With these options, a unit might have a generic control station, but all fixtures such as control panel, windows and seating, are replicated in the digital realm. This is less expensive, but on the downside, the simulation may not feel quite as convincing.

Movement and Teamwork Recreating the movement and behavior of vehicles is crucial. Software advances are designed to deliver an experience which is as close a match to

real driving conditions as possible. Discrepancies here will compromise the effectiveness of training. The aim is to help trainees develop reactions which come as second nature. If the vehicle behaves differently to the simulator, they will have to make adjustments, which will impact their performance levels. There is one more aspect which often goes overlooked when considering fidelity: the collaborative nature of most military operations. A driver will be working with his crew inside the cabin and may be communicating with a control center or other vehicles. If a training simulation can reflect this situation it can help individuals gel as a team and develop a working dynamic. Actions can become second nature which may give the unit a crucial edge in a battle situation. The simulator market is booming, and as new developers enter the market the choice is growing. The decision will be a balancing act between cost and delivering an experience which is realistic and prepares personnel for the rigors of combat.

The market is full of exciting, visually appealing virtual reality simulators. It can be easy to become carried away by the hype. However, the downside of most products is a tendency to be impressed by what the technology can do rather than the results

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ADVANCES IN MILITARY DRIVING AND AVIATION SIMULATOR TECHNOLOGY

Reconfigurable Simulators Hold the Key to the Future James Butler, Staff Writer

Reconfigurable vehicle simulators can offer a low-cost way to maintain combat readiness and vehicle proficiency.

While exercises can do their best to replicate the environments and sound of the battlefield, they cannot put soldiers into the dangerous situations they will face in combat

T

HE ARMY’S training needs are unique and immediate. Resource constraints mean there is limited time to train in actual vehicles. New technologies create additional challenges. Although they can make equipment more intuitive to use, they will also require additional training. Vehicle simulators offer an alternative. As they become more sophisticated, they are becoming more realistic, but there is a problem. Only the most advanced models are good enough to provide a truly worthwhile training experience and these can be expensive. Militaries use a high number of vehicles on land, sea and in the air. Delivering accurate simulators for each of these is prohibitively expensive. The answer lies in the deployment of advanced reconfigurable vehicle simulators capable of accurately recreating the experience of multiple types of vehicles.

Taking Simulators to the Next Level The army has a big problem when it comes to training: war is dangerous. In order to prepare soldiers for the trials that lie ahead, a training regime must find a way to replicate that danger. Doing so safely, though, is impossible in a live environment. While exercises can do their best to replicate the environments and sound of the battlefield, they cannot put soldiers into the dangerous situations they will face in combat. Simulators can do that. They can place soldiers into the heart of a firefight or engage in intense dog fights. If things go wrong, the soldier might face a virtual death but nothing worse than that. That training can be more realistic. As technology improves, it is becoming easier to stage realistic battles against enemies which think and react in a more human-like way. This allows trainees to experience a greater range of situations, in more environments and to engage in a more realistic way. The problem is: simulators have traditionally been far from adequate. Graphics were low 12 | WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM

quality, movement was unrealistic and program were too basic or failed to deliver accurately a simulated combat environment. The good news, though, is that technology has recently advanced dramatically. It is evolving at an unprecedented pace. Resolutions are shifting up through the gears from HD to ultra HD and beyond. By spending money now on upgrading their simulators, the military can unlock sizeable gains. The US Marine Corps recently committed to spending as much as $28.9 million upgrading their combat convoy simulators. The systems deliver an immersive training environment for convoy operations and deliver training in vehicle and small arms weapon utilization. They can also train crew to cope with situations such as improvised explosive device attacks, ambushes and other situations. They can help trainees develop countermeasures to cope with evolving enemy attacks. The contract comes in two tiers: an initial award of $17.7million with additional contract options of $11.2million. This gives the Marines the very latest in functionality, as well as the ability to easily install future upgrades to leverage the benefits of further technological enhancements12. “Our solution leverages Department of Defense investments in other programs plus our own corporate capabilities in the area of vehicle/ crew-coordination simulators and use-of-force training systems to provide the Marines with an open, modular product that is easy to maintain and upgrade in the future,” said Kurt Flosky, FAAC’s President.

Reconfigurable Simulators Military leaders, therefore, are willing to invest significant sums of money into simulators to ensure training remains at the highest standards. Technology is evolving quickly expanding the range of available training situations as the rest of FAAC’s range of products demonstrates. It includes vehicle mounted gun training using virtual reality headsets to recreate complex battlefield scenarios.


ADVANCES IN MILITARY DRIVING AND AVIATION SIMULATOR TECHNOLOGY

FAAC POLICE SIMULATOR

Their KC-135 BOSS, meanwhile, provides complete boom operator training by accurately recreating the boom pod environment and controls. A high-resolution image and accurate movement tracking provides a highly realistic simulation. It is a range of products with a common aim – to deliver the maximum quality possible. Achieving such a high level of fidelity does not come cheap. The latest simulators can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Providing in depth specialized simulators for all the vehicles the army uses would be prohibitively expensive. To address that challenge, a range of reconfigurable operator driving systems is coming to market which can be tailored to several specific situations. The FAAC ODS uses a generic truck cab with interchangeable dash kits and body panels to create an accurate representation of the driver’s station. Combined with vehicle dynamics software, and force feedback steering, this can accurately simulate the driving behavior and movement of the vehicle.

Realism and Flexibility The result is a training experience which achieves the key goals of the military. It is realistic in that

the graphics and movements of the device deliver an experience which is as close as possible to the real thing, and it is affordable. The ability to reconfigure a generic device to recreate different vehicles reduces costs and enables the military to fit training into their limited resources. As well as saving money in the long term, these devices increase the amount of training soldiers receive with realistic scenarios. They recreate situations and environments from multiple locations around the world. Moving forward into the future, the use of simulators is expected to grow and that will bring its own unique set of challenges. More sophisticated simulators will be more expensive. Keeping up with the pace of change will be difficult. When buying a system for today it is important to think about how it can be updated to cope with the future. Change across the wider military estate will also create challenges. The fortunes of the simulator market are tied closely to the market for vehicles. New models are being introduced continuously and these will change the training demands. It is an ever-moving landscape – one in which technology is changing and new opportunities are opening up.

Achieving such a high level of fidelity does not come cheap. The latest simulators can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Providing in depth specialized simulators for all the vehicles the army uses would be prohibitively expensive

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ADVANCES IN MILITARY DRIVING AND AVIATION SIMULATOR TECHNOLOGY

The Future of Vehicle Simulators Tom Cropper, Editor

Modern simulators can deliver unprecedented levels of realism, but as technology improves there is more to come.

Operators can train in a variety of combat scenarios. Team members can work together in much the same way as they would during an operation, helping them to develop bonds, evolve a team dynamic and address any weaknesses

I

MAGINE THIS scene. A Humvee crew are navigating their way through a remote desert town. Through the windscreen they can see traffic, pedestrians and buildings. Over the radio, a controller provides guidance and directs them towards their target – a suspicious vehicle. To everyone inside the vehicle, this looks, feels and sounds very much like a real-life operation. In actual fact they are sitting inside a vehicle simulator, and their controller is at a PC station a few yards away. Welcome to the future of the fully immersive digital vehicle training.

Advancing Technology The military has been using simulators for decades, but it’s only recently that they have begun to fulfil their potential and it is thanks, in part, to the world of computer games. Gaming engines have developed rapidly and can deliver extremely realistic simulations. Virtual reality, after a few false starts, has finally come of age, making it possible to develop hyper realistic and immersive games. In many ways the VR games industry is yet to fully take off. There is a huge amount of interest in platforms such as Playstation VR and Oculus Rift, but they are expensive and some of the gaming content has been a little underwhelming. Where it really is surging is in the training industry, where vehicle simulators deliver realistic training without the cost and risk involved with live training. Back in 2014, the British army showed what could be achieved by quickly designing a simulator for its MRAP vehicles. The solution created a realistic environment including imaging, motion and the full range of vehicle controls13. In the years since then, the technology has evolved rapidly. Manufacturers can develop their own fully customizable gaming engines to create a solution specifically tailored to the needs of the military. The result can be an immersive experience on a level few would have thought possible just a few years ago. Using a replica truck cab, simulators can recreate the interior of a vehicle. Advanced

14 | WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM

motion software can recreate its dynamics and driving behavior, while advanced 360-degree imaging places soldiers directly into the virtual training environment. Operators can train in a variety of combat scenarios. Team members can work together in much the same way as they would during an operation, helping them to develop bonds, evolve a team dynamic and address any weaknesses. Connected technology makes it possible to work with other individuals remotely. Using a control station, for example, an operator can direct an operation and guide drivers using simulated surveillance technology. In the US, the army is developing what it terms a Synthetic Training Environment (STE). This new virtual world will be equipped with enough realism for soldiers to undergo safe, extensive virtual training. It is a concept very much in line with the army’s vision of a multi domain operational environment in which the military operates simultaneously across multiple theatres including land, sea, air and cyber. Units from different locations may be able to operate within this virtual environment and undergo large scale training exercises which would previously have been impractical. Simulations will also be able to program scenarios and events which would have been too dangerous or difficult to arrange in the real world. Again, it is the gaming world which has accelerated developments. Major General Maria Gervais, who is developing the army’s STE, told Defense Systems14 that until recently it was thought that the STE would not be ready until 2030, but thanks to developments from the gaming industry it now looks as if the STE will be online much earlier.

Artificial Intelligence The developments in technology are impressive, but computer simulations will still struggle with one crucial ingredient – the human factor. Live exercises allow trainees to pit themselves against human opponents. They can learn strategy and deal with an opponent whose actions are difficult


ADVANCES IN MILITARY DRIVING AND AVIATION SIMULATOR TECHNOLOGY

FAAC MRAP NETWORKED GUNNER’S STATION

to predict. In comparison, most virtual scenarios appear relatively static. However, the world of artificial intelligence is evolving rapidly. According to a military white paper, artificial intelligence will be able to deliver enhanced realism to the proposed STE15. Using satellite imagery and all available data, AI engines will be able to recreate physical locations in the digital realm. This could have enormous implications for the military. If soldiers need to be deployed into a region, they can already train virtually within that area, familiarize themselves with the surroundings and acquire much of the knowledge they will need to operate more effectively. For example, if a unit will need to patrol a certain area, personnel could prepare extensively by modelling training systems within that location. By the time they arrive, they will already have developed a level of familiarity with that location.

AI can also be used to create more realistic virtual opponents. Virtual enemies could learn from past mistakes and even adapt themselves to different strategies. The ability to deal with an opponent capable of thinking creatively will do much to enhance the realism of training simulations and prepare soldiers for what is to come. Technology is evolving rapidly. While this creates opportunities, it also brings challenges and operators struggle to keep up. A system delivered today at great expense may be relatively obsolete within a short space of time. This is why systems need the ability to be updated easily and to incorporate new upgrades with minimal disruption. As has been said many times before, digital simulations will never fully replace real life, but they can add to the realism of training, reduce the logistical and financial burden and prepare soldiers for a modern, digital and connected world of warfare.

In the US, the army is developing what it terms a Synthetic Training Environment (STE). This new virtual world will be equipped with enough realism for soldiers to undergo safe, extensive virtual training

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ADVANCES IN MILITARY DRIVING AND AVIATION SIMULATOR TECHNOLOGY

References:

President Trump Wants $686bn for the Military: http://fortune.com/2018/02/12/trump-military-budget/

1

France Celebrates Bastille Day with Military Spending Boost: https://www.voanews.com/a/france-celebrates-bastille-day-with-military-spending-boost---but-not-as-much-as-trump-wants/4482683.html

2

3

Trump Suggests NATO Doubles Spending Target: https://edition.cnn.com/2018/07/11/politics/trump-nato-defense-spending/index.html

4

UK Cuts Helicopter Training: https://ukdefencejournal.org.uk/uk-cuts-helicopter-training-due-shortage-funds/

Warships and Battlefield Training to be Axed in Defence Cuts: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/warships-and-battlefield-training-to-be-axed-in-defence-cuts-q7nr0stsz

5

6

Airforce Cuts Training by Five Weeks: https://www.expressnews.com/news/local/article/Air-Force-cuts-pilot-training-by-5-weeks-13040570.php

Airforce Pilot in Serious Condition: https://www.airforcetimes.com/news/your-air-force/2018/06/11/air-force-pilot-in-serious-condition-after-f-15-crash-training-sorties-halted/

7

Airforce Training Jet Crashes in Mississippi: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2018/05/23/air-force-training-jet-crashes-in-mississippi-status-pilots-unclear.html

8

Global Military Simulation Market: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20170503006333/en/Global-Military-Simulation-Virtual-Training-Market-2017-2021

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10 11

Cost of Expensive South Korea Military Exercises: $14million: https://reut.rs/2LC2FQw Better Simulation Could Save Millions: https://www.defenseone.com/technology/2015/01/better-simulation-could-save-military-millions/104172/

FAAC Receives Award for Modernisation of US Marine Corps Combat Convoy Simulator: https://www.faac.com/blog/2018/06/12/faac-receives-award-modernization-u-s-marine-corps-combat-convoy-simulators-valued-28-9m/ 12

13

Army Builds Immersive Simulator: https://defensesystems.com/articles/2014/05/16/army-trict-simulator-mrap-armored-vehices.aspx

14

Army Creating Virtual World for Multidomain Battle: https://www.defensenews.com/digital-show-dailies/global-force-symposium/2018/03/26/army-creating-virtual-world-for-multidomain-battle-training/

15

Soldiers are Training in Virtual Environments Created from Real Cities: https://futurism.com/army-virtual-reality-synthetic-training-enviornment/

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Defence Industry Reports – Advances in Military Driving and Aviation Simulator Technology – FAAC Inc  

Defence Industry Reports – Advances in Military Driving and Aviation Simulator Technology – FAAC Incorporated

Defence Industry Reports – Advances in Military Driving and Aviation Simulator Technology – FAAC Inc  

Defence Industry Reports – Advances in Military Driving and Aviation Simulator Technology – FAAC Incorporated