PRAGUE — At ITEC 2015 last week, much of the buzz by the end of the conference centered on an innovative approach to the higher degrees of realism and immersion increasingly in demand by training planners.
Six small companies provided an immersive hybrid warfare scenario that drew significant attention. Members of some from both military delegations – some of whom immediately grasped the considerable benefits such an approach could bring to their demand they have for realistic and immersive training; several industrial visitors made of whom were heard to make comments along the lines of, "why didn't we do this?"
Hybrid warfare, by its very nature, is challenging for training planners. They need to incorporate multiple players of vastly varying natures and capabilities, normally in small numbers or even individual platforms. They have to inject uncertainty into the scenario to represent the threat that unconventional and hybrid warfare operations present. confront 'friendly forces' with. And they need to do all of this in a sufficiently agile manner to be able to modify the scenario on the fly to extract maximum training benefit for participants.
One of the overriding theme of ITEC 2015 was immersion. Debates raged across the exhibition floor and in the conference rooms as to the real definition of "immersive technologies." But there was a measure of agreement , however, that the regularly repeated demonstration mounted by this coalition of small, innovative companies highlighted the spoke to the vast majority ofthe reasons why immersion is important and why it has become a critical development area for NATO. , as noted in the 15 April story.
As previously reported, British company Close Air Solutions teamed with Selex ES last year to deliver an immersive close-air support simulator to the British Ministry of Defence. This simulator formed the core of the demonstration in Prague, where it was joined by an F-35 pilot in a dome simulator in which the displays were provided by Immersive Display Group.
Enemy forces were represented by an SA-8 man-portable anti-aircraft missile gunner, for which the simulation was provided by Battlefield Simulations. The principal "friendly" player — a lone Joint Terminal Attack Coordinator (JTAC) — took part from the Omnideck omnidirectional treadmill developed by MSE Omnifinity and first seen at I/ITSEC in Orlando, Florida, last fall.
Computing power to support each of the applications and their integration into a single, seamless scenario was provided by Novatech.
The scenario unfolded with the emergence of the JTAC in potentially hostile territory while at the same time as a friendly helicopter came under fire from the SA-8. Vectoring in the F-35 in a close-air support mission, the JTAC and F-35 fighter pilot had to contend with and overcome a hostile electronic warfare environment and identify, locate and prosecute a successful engagement of the hostile air defense asset.
Underpinning the entire demonstration was MetaVR, the visualization systems company whose 3D virtual simulation of the southern Somali city of Kismayo formed the "playing area" for the scenario. Company President and co-owner W. Garth Smith explained why the coalition of companies came to present the compelling scenario. that drew so much attention.
"As one of the member companies puts it, this is all about bringing training sessions closer to reality. The intent is to provide real training benefit in a pressurized and swiftly moving environment while leveraging the skills and vision of these companies, each of whom brings unique skill sets to bear on the objective," he said.
One of the participant in the exercise summed up the unique nature of what had been achieved.
"What we have done is to combine a mobile soldier — the JTAC — with a fifth generation fighter, a joint fires support team and a hostile EW environment in a contested situation, all in one place. There have been no hitches, we have been able to enhance the scenario pretty much in real time and we think have created something for which there is little precedent from a group of companies of this nature."
Several military observers said the scenario being offered spoke directly to their current and immediate future needs, with one went so far as to commenting that in a 30thirty-year career he had never seen anything like it that had not been without it being trumpeted for weeks or months in advance.
Undoubtedly, this small group of companies had an effect in Prague out of all proportion to their collective commercial size and resources. Coalition became the buzz word to describe operations in Afghanistan and has been adopted elsewhere to great effect. Perhaps more might be seen of this innovative and courageous concept – a 'coalition of the capable,' if you will.
The U.S. Army is pushing back on claims made in congressional language that the Defender Europe exercise is canceled and will be replaced by smaller drills in 2022. However, the exercise will not be the division-level event it was originally intended to be.