A series of modular cubicles can be slotted into the ANTares container and networked together for training. (Rheinmetall)
LONDON — Rheinmetall used this week’s Berlin Air Show to showcase its Advanced Network Trainer (ANTares), a mobile tactical training system that consists of a 20-foot metal container shell into which a variety of simulators can be installed.
“We chose to put it into a container so that it was fully deployable,” said Michael Schmidt, vice president of sales and business development, flight simulation, with the Düsseldorf-based company. “The container is equipped with everything you need, such as PCs and image generators. You just have to plug it into a power supply.”
The container can hold up to seven modular cubicles, each with a simulation system. These simulators can be for a variety of platforms, including helicopters, tanks, UAV ground control stations and ships. These can be networked so that they talk both to one another and to remote simulators.
Along with crew coordination training, ANTares can be used to prepare entire units for deployed missions, either at home base or in-theater. The modular cubicles enable networked joint tactical training of ground, air and naval forces, drawing on a variety of weapons simulations.
Each ANTares system normally comes with two containers and can be outfitted with various types of software, including VBS2. It also uses commercial-off-the-shelf equipment to lower costs. Rheinmetall is aiming for a target price of roughly 1 million Euros ($1.3 million) for each container, although this can vary considerably and depends on the fit-out requested by individual customers.
“It’s a bit like ordering a car with a basic configuration but with lots of add-ons or better standards in some regards,” said Schmidt. Joysticks, for example, can be simple or come with programmable force-feedback systems, while visual systems can consist of relatively basic screens and limited fields of view (FOV) or include virtual reality goggles with all-round FOV.
Among early users are the German armed forces, with the army and army aviation corps installing them at the Bückeburg helicopter training school in northwest Germany. Bückeburg serves as the training center for helicopter crews from all branches of the German armed forces. One of the containers has the standard seven cubicles, while the second has a series of specialist cubicles enabling the training of rear cabin personnel such as door gunners and winchmen.
Rheinmetall currently installs the various simulator systems; it uses its Rapid Generation Database, which includes a collection of digitized reconnaissance data, to automatically create the required 3-D virtual world in a matter of hours.
But customers can also connect existing full-motion system simulators if they have standardized interfaces.
“It was important that the customer could choose the configuration for himself, so he could install individual simulators himself and not have to call us [to do it],” Schmidt said.