Picture it. A police unit gets a 2am call to a robbery at a local warehouse. Instead of sending officers in blind, they call in aerial support to assess the situation from the sky. As patrol cars make their way to the scene, the aircraft is already there, watching the situation unfold from above, using high-magnification imaging technology to determine who the perpetrators are and if they have weapons.
The airborne camera operator sees three people loading boxes into a pickup, with no visible weapons – he tells the team on the ground, and lets them know about a side entrance they can use that the thieves can’t see.
The ground team goes in, knowing exactly what to expect. They capture two men, but the third takes off in the pickup. The pilot pursues and the camera operator tracks the fugitive with precision. When the driver stops and runs into a nearby forest, his body heat is visible to the aircraft’s infrared sensors – there’s nowhere to hide. All the pilot has to do is relay the suspect’s location to the command center, and officers on the ground quickly capture him. The pilot turns back to base, mission accomplished.
But after they land, the crew doesn’t step out of a plane – they step away from a bank of networked technologies running a simulated tactical mission. The pilot, operator and ground crew have just completed a virtual training exercise – learning vital skills and coordinating with other team members – all while staying safe on the ground.
Training simulations are on the rise in law enforcement and defense organizations around the world. The main reason is cost savings (e.g. the operating cost of a flight simulator is just 5-20% of a real aircraft), but other factors include operator safety and the ability to simulate scenarios that can’t easily or efficiently be staged in real life.
Saving costs. Saving lives.
WESCAM’s mission rehearsal and training solutions – which include MX-SIM, MX-SIM LITE, TACTICAL MISSION TRAINER and FLIGHT & GROUND STATIONS – offer a huge advantage over live training. They can cut annual training costs by up to 70%, and give air crew, ground, maritime and command-base forces the vital skills required to succeed in the joint-force missions they face in the real word. Plus, having teams trained in a simulated environment before they step into any platform can reduce training accidents, preventing damage to personnel and equipment.
WESCAM’s Mission Rehearsal and Simulation solutions encourage joint-force training; teams can all train as part of the same mission, no matter where they’re located. There’s no travel. No scheduling issues. No huge costs. Just fully-immersive, highly-realistic tactical training.
Missions can be fully customized for any scenario, any weather and any terrain. Searching for an unfriendly sub in rough Atlantic waters? Check. Tracking hostile forces in a desert sandstorm? Check. Supporting first-responders in time-critical SAR missions? They can do that too. All without taking assets out of the field, adding to equipment wear and tear or putting lives at risk.
How much is virtual training saving the military?
According to a survey by the Government Business Council, the U.S. Air Force saved $1.7B between 2012 and 2016 by using simulators in place of live training flights. U.S. sub crews now use simulators for 100% of pre-deployment training. And the U.S. Navy projects that by 2020, they’ll save $119M a year on training for two of their aircraft.
In this era of shrinking defense budgets, that kind of savings is an easy choice.