Helping cadets understand & develop airmanship skills
Earlier in 2017, the US Air Force (USAF) Academy (AFA) selected VBS3 and VBS Fires FST products from Bohemia Interactive Simulations and SimCentric Technologies for use in the AFA’s Military Strategic Studies course.
“What we are trying to do is expose cadets to how the USAF employs air power at the operational level,” Lt.Col. Casey Tidgewell, who leads, directs, and manages all AFA Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) education, training and operations, explains. “The course is designed to help cadets understand and develop airmanship skills as well as understand different career paths available to them in the USAF.”
Tidgewell adds that roughly 250 cadets a year will gain exposure to RPA and air power operations training through the course. VBS3, developed by Bohemia Interactive Simulations, is a a full-featured virtual environment application, complete with scenario editors, after-action review, a massive content library, developer tools, an easy-to-use interoperability gateway, and a voice communications system. It has become the standard in game-based desktop simulation for tactical training and mission rehearsal, and is by far the most widely used game-based simulation software among militaries today.
Prior to using VBS3, AFA primarily relied on live training to introduce cadets to RPA operations, using the RQ-11 RAVEN, a lightweight, hand-launched unmanned aerial system (UAS) commonly used for low-altitude surveillance and reconnaissance intelligence.
Michael “Ski” Golembesky, the instructor for the AFA RPA Program who incorporated VBS3 into the curriculum, designed a series of scaffolded training scenarios using VBS3 that require cadets to conduct basic tasks such as tracking an individual using the virtual UAV to more challenging missions, designed to test a team’s ability to take commander’s intent to support a complex special operations nighttime mission. Mr. Golembesky noted that the VBS3 mission editors allow him the flexibility as training administrator to inject new elements into the scenario or control the pace of how events unfold in an exercise, depending on how quickly students progress. Cadets use mIRC chat and voice-over IP to simulate interactions over satellite communications with instructors playing different roles. VBS3 also connects to the academy’s RPA simulator. “We needed a simulation that was easy to use and user-friendly for college students, and VBS3 provided that,” said Lt.Col. Tidgewell. Golembesky added that ease of use enables cadets to take on more of a mentor and leadership role, which will in turn assist him in training and operating the simulation.
VBS3 includes more than 40 unmanned systems and provides a generic UAV interface for operation system payload sensors and weapons. UAV models also feature a variety of camera modes including Electro-Optical and Infrared views. VBS Fires FST, from SimCentric Technologies, simulates Call for Fire and Close Air Support activities within VBS3, providing exterior and terminal ballistics to high levels of detail and supports a wide array of munitions, fuse types and firing platforms.
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