Simulation saves wear-and-tear on AFVs + saves money
Armour has been an essential part of land warfare. In recent conflicts, such as in Afghanistan, priority keeps changing from main battle tanks (MBT) to patrol and convoy operations to the use of Armoured Fighting Vehicles (AFV) doing that job.
Training, in the early days, was almost entirely done using real hardware, sometimes in combat itself, but has now progressed to a mix of live and simulation.
When real AFVs are used for training, there is wear-and-tear on tracks, engines and guns. Viable training alternatives now exist to take some of the training load and preserve the operational hardware for combat. Some training aids can be attached to the AFV itself, some are separate devices ranging from Part-Task Trainers (PTT) up to Full Mission Simulators (FMS). For multi-crew training, training devices can be linked and for larger-formation training, local-area or wide-area networks (LAN/WAN) can be used so that multi-role exercises can be carried out.
Some types of training devices can be attached to the real vehicle when it is static, using external power so that the vehicle engine does not have to be used. Visual displays can be used with weapon sights, gun trainers can have dummy rounds for loading practise, more complex systems can have external computers and visual displays mounted in or round the vehicle. Examples of attached training systems include KMW’s SIAM (System-Integrated Training Aid for the PUMA IFV) , Meggitt Light Armor Vehicle Trainer (LAVT) and Raydon FIST (Full Crew Interactive Skills Trainer) trainers for the ABRAMS and BRADLEY AFVs.
Training devices can be attached to moving vehicles on exercises, either as an “extra” or part of the original design. In Tactical Engagement Simulation (TES), lasers are fired instead of live rounds. In addition, other actions can be recorded such as switching, use of sensors and weapons, and exact position using GPS. TES is normally combined with Weapons Effects Simulation (WES) that includes pyrotechnics set off by laser or radio, so-called “flash-bang devices”. Using TES and WES, realistic field exercises can be carried out, not only with AFVs but with infantry, artillery and air support.
The protocols of the US Army Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System (MILES) are the TES/WES world standard. Examples include the MILES 2000 series from Cubic Defense, used by US forces and several other nations. In Europe, Saab‘s BT46 system is compatible with US MILES and used by several European armies.
However, once it is decided to use simulation technology and not involve the real vehicle, an enormous choice of training aids become available. These vary from simple desktop devices, through cubicle-mounted systems, to simulators with full-size crew stations. At the simple end, desktop training aids are PC-based and replica handgrips and controllers can be fitted to increase tactile realism. Other training devices can be mounted in a cubicle, container or trailer, and many systems are portable so that they can be deployed to units rather than being at a training centre. Crew stations can be linked together for full-crew training, or further linked for training several AFV crews together, or wider to other combat units. Replica MBT turrets can be used to train crew except the driver, who can have a specialist training device, and some turret trainers have a wrap-around visual display for the commander to view the outside world when the top hatch is opened.
The cost-ratio of training using simulation compared to the cost of training using real equipment, can easily be calculated. In addition, with simulators can do more than in the real vehicle. Conditions that would be hazardous in the real vehicle can easily be simulated, and realistic enemy action can be added, including a number of different enemy responses. The more expensive the real equipment, the more the benefits of utilising modern simulation technology.
A cost-ratio of more than 1:30 has been quoted for the ABRAMS MBT. This large number is because of the high cost of live training including expensive components which wear out in range exercises. The more complex training aids may be expensive in themselves but as the 1:30 ratio shows, can be highly cost-effective. They can be paid for by a small reduction of training time in which the real vehicle is used, and may also be able to extend the service life of the AFV by reducing wear and tear.
Recent AFV Training News
This covers 21 projects from 11 countries and regions, and is in alphabetical order of location.
Cubic Global Defense is to deliver three mobile combat training centres to a customer in the ASPAC region. This is for delivery in 2018-2019 under a US$25 milliom contract. Laser-based simulation will be used for vehicles, weapons, and individual soldiers.
Cubic Global Defense has a U$4.5 million contract to upgrade Canadian Weapons Effect Simulation (CWES) at the Canadian Manoeuvre Training Centre (CMTC) at Base Wainwright, Alberta.
Saab is to supply BT46 CV9035 vehicle simulators to the Estonian Armed Forces. This is for the Estonian Infantry and Armour School and deliveries during 2018. Saab’s new MANPACK 300 system will be used for control and monitoring of exercises for up to 300 players.
Saab is to upgrade the US Army Deployable Instrumentation System Europe (DISE) and the Combat Vehicle Tactical Engagement Simulation System (CVTESS). This will conform to either the US MILES Communication Code (MCC) or the European OSAG 2.0 standard. OSAG 2 was developed by Saab for accurate simulation of rounds and MCC is the US Army standard. DISE is a deployable Tactical Engagement Simulation System (TESS) with laser firing, entity tracking, data recording, Exercise Control (EXCON), and After Action Review (AAR). The upgraded DISE will be based in Grafenwoehr, Germany, for deployment throughout Europe under the Training Support Activity Europe (TSAE) programme.
Thales has delivered simulators for the AMX-10RCR reconnaissance vehicle to army bases at Canjeurs and Samur. These are to the Thales STP-NG design, with training modules for vehicle commander, gunner and driver, plus stations to input infantry and artillery activities. Up to 15 modules can be connected for combined training.
Thales is also to upgrade instrumentation at combat training centres at Sissonne for urban training and Mailly-le-Camp for training in open terrain. The Thales CERBERE system will be used for combined-arms training for more than 2,000 entities from armoured vehicles to individual soldiers.
Cubic has a U$11 million contract for Rotational Exercise Design Support Services (REDSS) at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center (JMRC) in the Hohenfels Training Area, operated by the US Army. JMRC provides training in realistic operational environments complete with opposing forces.
Tapestry Solutions, a Boeing company, has a U$58M contract that includes exercises at the JMRC, the Joint Multinational Simulation Center (JMSC) at Grafenwoehr and its satellites in Kaiserslautern, Germany and Vicenza, Italy. Tapestry designs and conducts computer-based simulation exercises from unit-level to joint and multinational exercises in classroom and range environments. The team led by Tapestry includes Capstone Corporation, Metro Productions and Visual Awareness Technology & Consulting (VATC).
Bagira Systems has supplied its Joint-fires BattleSpace Simulator (JOBSS) to the Israeli Defence Forces. This includes imagery, a fire direction centre, Howitzer Crew Trainers (HCTs), other simulated military equipment, a UAV station and an instructor station with After Action Review. The system is for training individuals up to a brigade fire support centre. It uses the Bagira CGF-X scenario generator for images of computer-generated forces (CGF). A vehicle-mounted version is for training in the field.
KMW is to deliver eight simulators to the Norwegian Army at Camp Rena, north of Oslo. These are for the CV90 armoured infantry fighting vehicle and the LEOPARD 2 A4NO MBT. Display systems will be from 3D perception A.S. (3DP) and will include 360-degree domes, projectors and related equipment.
Saab has supplied new laser simulators to the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV), so that the Swedish Army can upgrade training systems to the latest NATO standards.
Saab has a three year contract extension for TES in the British Army. This is for maintaining and updating Saab’s Deployable TES (DTES) system that is used by the British Army in the UK and in exercises abroad.
XPI SimulationXPI Simulation is to supply 28 driver training simulators for the AJAX vehicle to the UK Ministry of Defence. There will be static and full-motion versions for training drivers on all six AJAX variants. Marshall is to provide 25 new AJAX turret simulator shelters to Lockheed Martin UK (story here).
Cubic has a U$35 million three-year contract for the Area Weapons Effects Simulator (AWES) at the Salisbury Plain Training Area (SPTA) in the UK, and the British Army Training Unit Suffield (BATUS) in Alberta, Canada. AWES is used for exercises with weapon and NBC effects, and includes GPS to track the positions of more than 1,400 soldiers and 250 vehicles. It also records hits, kills and misses using the Cubic MILES system.
Aegis Technologies is to create 3D models of US and other vehicles for the US Army at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, to add to the US Army model library.
Distributed SimulationTechnology, Inc (DiSTI) Corporation is to deliver training devices for maintenance personnel of the M1A2 MBT. To fulfil this and other contracts, DiSTI has expanded their facility near the University of Central Florida, Orlando, by 5,000 square feet.
DiSTI also has a $4.4 million contract to upgrade to the US Army STRYKER AFV Maintenance Training System (MTS) Diagnostic Troubleshooting Trainer (DTT) at Fort Lee, VA.
Leidos Inc. has a $22 million contract for simulations that can operate across LVC and gaming areas (LVC-G). Leidos is also to deliver Common Driver Trainer (CDT) systems to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. These include 14 driver training stations and four instructor operator stations (IOS) with After Action Review (AAR).
Lockheed Martin has a $288 million contract as prime contractor for updating US Army live training. The company and partner Saab is to provide a single training product for vehicle crew training. The new Instrumentable MILES (I-MILES) Vehicle Tactical Engagement Simulation System (VTESS) will integrate with current MILES systems, and is reported to be smaller, lighter with simpler components.
The US Army is developing an augmented reality Synthetic Training Environment (STE) utilising One World Terrain (OWT). The OWT research project will create 3-D terrain based on geospatial data. A recent forecast from Frost & Sullivan predicted that by 2020 nearly all training exercises will include some sort of mixed reality.
Capable training technology is readily available. A combination of live and synthetic training with high quality imagery and computer-generated forces, enables realistic combat conditions to be trained before troops deploy. In addition, simulator training can be more realistic than using the AFV itself because a variety of enemy actions can be simulated and conditions that would be hazardous in the real vehicle can be covered safely.
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