VICTORIA, British Columbia — The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) has released its first long-term simulation strategy, paving the way for the spending of hundreds of millions of dollars on new training initiatives.
"Critical training deficiencies have been identified that require an investment in training systems for the CC177, CC150, and CH149 fleets," the strategy noted. "These fleets currently conduct their training using outside of Canada training devices, which results in the RCAF having no control over the training content and/or aircraft configurations that are not compatible with RCAF configurations, resulting in negative training."
The strategy will also look at RCAF aircraft that could be linked in the distributed mission training network. Among those would be the CP140 Aurora maritime surveillance aircraft, which could be integrated with the new CH148 maritime Cyclone helicopter as well as Royal Canadian Navy training assets.
RCAF spokesman Capt. Alex Munoz said although the service has a long history of using simulators, this is the first time it has published a simulation roadmap.
"This roadmap has been published in order to share the RCAF's vision on simulation," Munoz said. "It ensures that stakeholders, partners, industry and the Canadian public has a general understanding about the RCAF plans to leverage the use of existing training systems, optimize new and upcoming modeling and simulation capabilities, as well as how the RCAF views simulation toward achieving improved operational readiness and excellence in training."
"However, with the RCAF Simulation Strategy in place, new and upcoming projects can rely upon, and use, the strategy, its vision and embedded roadmap as a benchmark for modeling and simulation activities," he said.
Company officials, such as those from L-3 Communications MAS Canada, the designated training provider for the new RCAF maritime helicopter, the Cyclone, are examining the strategy. Company officials said they did not have comment at this point.
Although it's still early days, Mike Greenley, vice president and general manager for CAE Canada – Defence and Security, said the strategy represents an institutional commitment to simulation over the long term.
"It provides focus in what the Air Force wants to see in terms of integrated training systems and the integrated simulation environment to support that training system," he said. "Any of the new [aircraft] programs which have simulation-based training should be looking to that to ensure their solution will fit into this Air Force vision."
Derrick Rowe, executive chairman of Bluedrop Training and Simulation of Halifax, Canada's second largest military training firm, welcomed the release of the strategy. "It gives us visibility for the future," said Rowe. "But the devil is in the details."
The RCAF expects to spend up to CAN $499 million (US $400 million) on a common distributed training network. Through a common scenario and data-generation capability, that system will integrate new and existing RCAF training devices into a distributed simulation-based environment. A contract could come as early as 2018.
CAE hopes to play a role in a number of potential RCAF simulation projects. For instance, the company is the only one to build full-mission simulators for the EH-101/Cormorant helicopter.
RCAF Cormorant crews currently practice their skills on simulators at CAE's medium support helicopter training facility in the United Kingdom.
David Pugliese has been Defense News' Canada correspondent since 1989. He has covered conflicts in Afghanistan, the former Yugoslavia and Africa. In 2020, he won the Spencer Moore Award for Lifetime Achievement by the Canadian Committee for World Press Freedom. He is the author of two books on special operations forces.