Simulation training is an important tool with long-term benefits for budget conscious countries providing a realistic combat environment without the burden of heavy costs associated with traditional field exercises. As militaries evolve from analog to digital, simulation will become the popular choice especially on the African continent where military training is transitioning. The value of simulation is that it enables soldiers to train as close to mission reality as possible, improves individual and team combat awareness, and encourages decision-making skills, which are imperative to a successful mission. A soldier’s handling of equipment and his decision-making process are only as good as the training he receives.

Most simulation training solutions offered by providers can be tailored to requirements. Simulation training is broad and there are a number of companies worldwide who offer simulation products for airborne, maritime, and ground training as well as for the private security sector. Companies leading in simulation include:

  • Airbus Group SE
  • BAE Systems
  • CAE
  • Cubic
  • Elbit Systems
  • General Dynamics Corporation
  • L-3 Communications
  • Leonardo Spa
  • Lockheed Martin Corporation
  • Meggitt PLC
  • Northrop Grumman Corporation
  • Raytheon Company
  • Rheinmetall AG
  • Rockwell Collins Inc
  • Ruag
  • Saab AB
  • Textron Inc
  • Thales Group
  • The Boeing Company

Competition is definitely set to grow in this market, with new technologies and advanced and precise systems consistently emerging to keep ahead of the competition. For defence forces, simulation training draws on live, virtual, and constructive simulation.

Live Simulation

As close to mission reality as possible, live simulations consist of real soldiers, real or dummy weapons, and blank ammunition. Soldiers wear a harness-type system fitted with laser sensors, which provide analytical feedback. Ruag has such a system called the Gladiator, which integrates a soldier weapons with additional equipment and can provide differentiated and graphic hit displays, vulnerability models, medical care, position-finding in terrain and within buildings, active intervention in exercises, and after-action review for evaluation and tactical analysis. Saab’s soldier systems are interoperable with Multiple Integrated Laser engagement system (MILES) equipment.

Companies offering live simulation products usually provide weapon simulation solutions for various weapons such as grenade launchers, mortars, light and heavy machine guns, IEDs, guided missiles, antitank weapons, and mines. With regards to using vehicles as part of the simulation training exercise, Ruag offers vehicle-based laser components, which can be integrated into various vehicle types (unarmoured cargo and troop carriers, personnel carriers, battle tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, armoured combat vehicles, and armoured cars). All of these simulation systems can be seamlessly integrated. Cubic too adapts its laser-based tactical engagement simulation systems for soldiers, vehicles, direct fire weapons, buildings, watercraft, and fixed structures.


Virtual Simulation

Picture ©RUAG SOTA

Virtual simulation places real soldiers in simulated environments with soldiers able to train in one facility with instant feedback on their performance. Cubic offers a full range of deployable virtual and immersive trainers to test a range of tactical and decision-making skills in virtual and immersive environments. Ruag’s SOTA system is installed in a room and immerses soldiers in a realistic battlefield environment. Virtual simulators can offer immersive screens for 3D sights and touch-screen monitors for interaction and communication.


Constructive Simulation

©BISim Virtual Battlespace 3 (VBS3)

Constructive simulation focuses on “what if” scenarios. In constructive simulations, the entire environment is simulated including participants, equipment, and terrain. Constructive simulations use computer modelling to move imaginary soldiers through various field scenarios. Such a system is Saab’s BattleTek 5, which was launched this year and is the latest immersive version of its command and staff training system. Developed by Saab’s South African subsidiary, Saab Grintek Defence (SGD), BattleTek was first developed for the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) in 1995. It can be integrated with other simulation systems, as long as they are both High Level Architecture (HLA) compatible. BattleTek 5 is an immersive experience and has been integrated with Bohemia Interactive Simulations (BISim) Virtual Battlespace 3 (VBS3), which by using an Oculus Rift head-mounted display, can enable commanders to view the battlespace in a virtual environment. Ruag’s software, Osprey, immerses command post staff in extensive and complex conflicts spread over several kilometres and able to place up to 10 000 units at the trainee’s command.

South Africa is leading the way for Africa with the South African Army hosting a Simulation Symposium at the end of October. The symposium will focus on the importance of simulation training for force preparation as well as the need for integrated and interoperability capabilities (with common data configuration and data exchange technologies) to support the re-use of capabilities. The exhibition displays will include a range of simulations including live, virtual, constructive and serious gaming (LVC-SG) to support concepts of blended learning as new training methodology.

Simulation is immersive training and improves soldiers’ tactical decision-making process. Tight defence budgets require radical thinking and innovation in training approaches. Militaries should start evaluating how they train. African countries need to position themselves to best exploit new technologies, software programmes, and other applications to meet their training requirements within budgetary constraints.


Written by Sylvia Caravotas (Satovarac Consulting) for OIDA

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