TOWARDS THE FUTURE – DEFENCE SIMULATION PROGRESS

Since the Defence Simulation Roadmap was first published in 2006, work to ensure the document evolves to better plan for future development and establish a system of simulation governance for both the ADF and industry has continued without pause. Simulation governance protocols are being developed which will not only guide the ADF along the path to greater and more efficient use of simulation in its activities, but also to shape a vision for the establishment of partnerships with industry and academia in the future.

10th May 2011


 TOWARDS THE FUTURE – DEFENCE SIMULATION PROGRESS

 Nigel Pittaway / Melbourne


Since the Defence Simulation Roadmap was first published in 2006, work to ensure the document evolves to better plan for future development and establish a system of simulation governance for both the ADF and industry has continued without pause.

Simulation governance protocols are being developed which will not only guide the ADF along the path to greater and more efficient use of simulation in its activities, but also to shape a vision for the establishment of partnerships with industry and academia in the future.

A combined strategy and roadmap has therefore been developed to provide guidance for the entirety of Defence’s simulation capability, including industry. As originally published, it was to have been reviewed after twelve months and every five years thereafter, but it was decided early on that a review after only a year in circulation would not be necessary and therefore the first revision would emerge in 2011.

On the eve of the SimTect 2011 exhibition, to be held in Melbourne between May 30th and June 2nd, this first evolution of the strategy and roadmap is now in publication. It is due to be released electronically as these words are read and the hardcopy version will follow at a later date.

The increased and smarter use of simulation is partner to the Defence Strategic Reform Programme, which aims to realise a $20 billion saving in defence spending between now and 2019. As aircraft, warships and armoured fighting vehicles increase in complexity, the costs of purchasing; operating and maintaining them also increases dramatically. As training is effectively migrated from the real thing to a synthetic training device, cost savings can be realised. At least six of the fifteen reform streams indentified within the SRP will make some use of simulation.

However simulation in itself is not free and it’s easy to be seduced by the ‘bright lights’ of technology. The strategy and roadmap therefore aims to ensure simulation is used effectively as well as efficiently in all aspects of Defence business and that there is a common vision and direction across the entire ADF.

A major outcome is Project JP3028, which plans for an increase in the use of simulation throughout Defence, including the joint training space, to allow training with allies and coalition partners to be achieved in a relatively seamless manner.


PROJECT JP3028 PHASE ONE

Joint Project 3028 Phase 1, the Defence Simulation Programme, first appeared in the Defence Capability Plan in 2009 and was designed to address many of the gaps foreseen by the roadmap when it was released in 2006. It has been described as a ‘programme of projects’ which will form the backbone of the roadmap in years to come.

According to the current DCP, the project will deliver a variety of simulation services, systems and supporting infrastructure to the Australian Defence Organisation in several areas, including Capability Development (concept evaluation, Operational Test & Evaluation, experimentation etc); Research & Development; Options Analysis (preparedness modelling and simulation etc); Acquisition; Lifecycle support management; Individual and collective training (for both combat and non-combat roles); Mission Rehearsal and support to operational planning etc. “These simulation services and systems will require the support of an underlying synthetic environment, which will aid the efficient management of simulation in Defence” it says.

According to Defence’s Director General Simulation Dr Mike Brennan, the project has recently been subject to the Options Review Committee process and now has the necessary direction to proceed towards Government for First Pass Approval, which is due to occur between now and the end of 2012.

Dr Brennan says the DCP update published late last year confirms the position of JP3028 and he doesn’t anticipate any major changes in the foreseeable future. “There are significant links to simulation throughout the DCP, which is not surprising in the Strategic Reform Programme context as the move from real platforms to simulation increases” he notes, “but we also need to plan for preparedness and the competencies required. It’s not a mature capability yet”.
As JP3028 gathers momentum, staffing levels at the Australian Defence Simulation Office (ADSO), residing within the Vice Chief of the Defence Force Group Joint Capability Coordination Division, have increased commensurately. In addition, Mr Greg Akhurst has been appointed as its Director, effectively becoming 2IC to Dr Brennan. Although JP3028 is only one of the activities overseen by ADSO, it does account for the bulk of the group’s activities at present.

Industry is a major player in simulation around the globe and in Australia it is no different: The majority of the workforce that will enable Defence’s vision lies within industry. Accordingly it is important to determine how defence and industry will work together in the future to achieve the desired outcomes.

JP3028 is of course no exception to this and a market survey was released to industry prior to SimTecT 2010 in April last year. The survey provided ADO with information that will be used to shape the development of options that will be pursued by the project.

Although the survey was not a binding contract, it requested Rough Order of Magnitude (ROM) costs against some of the identified project requirements. It also flagged the probability of a Formal Request For Tender being released prior to Second Pass Approval, which is planned for the 2013-16 timeframe. Initial Operating Capability is, according to the document, set to occur from 2017, The DCP however does not list an IOC, noting merely that the date is yet to be decided upon

The DCP says, “The acquisition strategies for individual elements of the capability will be determined during first and second pass. It is likely that the capability will be realised through a series of COTS, MOTS, and developmental acquisitions. It is expected that Australian industry will be able to compete for the provision of hardware, software, facilities and Through Life Support”. It anticipates that the project will acquire simulation services, systems and supporting infrastructure from multiple sources.

“We will continue our engagement with industry and they will tell us what technology can realise” says Dr Brennan, “We are focussing on a formal approach to industry and greater Capability pieces will follow on from that approach”.

The project is at an ACAT II level, with a published cost of between $500 million and $1 billion, but is likely to be towards the lower end of the band.

JOINT COMBINED TRAINING CAPABILITY (JCTC)

A high-end Joint Collective and Coalition Training system, the JCTC is part of Headquarters, Joint Operations command, tasked with enhancing joint and combined training using a networked approach.

To achieve these goals, JCTC links training management systems with exercise areas, headquarters, deployed units and simulators. It is an example of the ‘joint’ approach to simulation desired by the ADF and its allies.

JCTC staff contribute synthetic training systems to major exercises such as the joint US-Australian ‘Talisman Sabre; exercise to be held in the middle of this year and the ‘Pitch Black’ series of air defence exercises held in the Northern Territory.

An Electronic Warfare simulation capability for JCTC is being acquired under Project JP3021.


RECENT PROGRESS

Project JP3028 and JCTC are not the only simulation programmes in Defence of course, as every capability project will utilise simulation to some extent. One of the things JP3028 is intended to do however is to ensure the various other projects have a common direction and goal, particularly as far as interoperability is concerned. It is this ‘joint-ness’ which will realise huge benefits in future training, between platforms, services and even allies.

Some of the major ticket items to come on stream in the next few years, such as AIR 5428 (fixed wing aircrew training) and AIR 9000 Phase 7 (Helicopter Aircrew Training System) will have simulation as one of their pillars. Others will all use simulation to some degree, whether it is part of the e-learning training package or for operational training and support.

Two examples bring home the level to which future defence projects will be reliant upon simulation to deliver their capability:

The first is the Joint Strike Fighter, which not only has computer-aided training for both pilots and maintainers, but actually requires extensive use of simulation for flight training. There is no two-seat F-35, so every Australian (and indeed international) pilot who lifts his or her aircraft off the runway for the very first time will have completed their training to that point using simulation.

The second example is the Air Warfare Destroyer, which will have a radar system capable of detecting and tracking so many targets at any given time, it would take a major (and hugely expensive) air force operation to launch enough aircraft to exercise it at its maximum capacity.

Training value has the potential to increase exponentially if simulators can be linked with one another and with real assets. Known as distributed training, this has the potential to be used in major exercises with assets (real and/or virtual) spread across the globe.

Simulation is also not just a capability for the future of course and has been in use in the ADF since the first Link Trainers were delivered to the RAAF during World War Two.

The RAN in particular has been at the forefront of training using simulation for many years, beginning with synthetic Operations Room trainers used since the early 1960s. More recently it linked its simulators at HMAS Watson with those of the US Navy for a training exercise in 2006 in a demonstration of distributed training.

In late March, the Navy opened its new warship bridge simulator at HMAS Watson, built by Norway’s Kongsberg Maritime Simulation and Training.

Reputedly one of the most advanced simulators in the world, the facility uses computerised virtual reality software to replicate the bridge of a warship. Two full-mission simulators and four part-task trainers can be used to exercise up to six bridge teams in differing scenarios, together or independently, and in different weather conditions.

“This facility is at the cutting edge of simulator technology and provides junior Seaman Officers with very realistic training so they will be capable of carrying out the duties of the Officer of the Watch before heading out to sea” explained Commander Australian Fleet Rear Admiral Steve Gilmore in a release announcing the event, “Our Navy is the first in the world to use multi-flex touch screens in a warship bridge simulator, which increases functionality without cumbersome hardware”.

The value of the facility upgrade is approximately $10 million and the bridge simulator can be reconfigured to represent most classes of warship in RAN service, including the new ‘Canberra’ class amphibious warfare vessels and the previously mentioned Air Warfare Destroyer.

Also in March, the Royal Australian Air Force’s AP-3C Orion Advanced Flight Simulator (AFS) was awarded the highest accreditation under ADF regulations.

According to Thales, the supplier of the AFS, the system combines a range of state of the art technologies which provides AP-3C crews with full flight performance, flight deck and tactical training capabilities.

The AFS was awarded Zero Flight Time/Level 5 accreditation (the highest under Australian standards), allowing Orion aircrew to transfer much of their training from the real aircraft to the simulator. It can also facilitate future modifications which may be incorporated into the AP-3C fleet and support development of the weapons system.

The accreditation was the culmination of an extensive development programme undertaken by Thales Australia (with assistance from Thales in the UK), the RAAF and the Defence Materiel Organization.

These two most recent examples of simulation developments in Australia underscore the importance of the collaboration between Defence and industry but, in terms of simulation governance, continued collaboration is one of the major challenges for the future.

FUTURE CHALLENGES

Speaking at the SimTect 2010 conference in Brisbane last year, Major General Steve Day, head of Joint Capability and Co-ordination within VCDF, pondered the future simulation ownership model that will be overseen by JP3028.

MAJGEN Day pointed to an initiative in the United States, which has seen a ‘simulation precinct’ formed: A campus of simulation industry companies, US DoD simulation acquisition personnel, academia and even components of the entertainment industry in Florida. Known as ‘Team Orlando’ the facility aims to bring all potential stakeholders together in a single location to better map research & development opportunities, programme management and effective life cycle management and support.

In conclusion, MAJGEN Day challenged delegates to analyse the ‘Team Orlando’ concept and perhaps consider whether a similar coalition of industries, State Governments, Universities and Defence could work in Australia.

Dr Brennan says ‘Team Orlando’ is but one approach to be considered: “The key issue for Defence is to decide which model of ownership of simulation is best” he said, “Team Orlando may be one approach but there are a number of others which could be pursued”. One alternative would include ownership residing completely within Defence, but Dr Brennan notes that this comes with a significant capability management burden”.”It is therefore about how we strike a balance” he says “We will have to sort out Defence’s involvement with industry”.

Another challenge is how to translate simulation workforce management policies between Defence and industry whilst ensuring competency. Also under consideration, is how to harness local universities and academia to provide the assurance for a sustainable future.

Perhaps the biggest challenge however is, knowing when simulation is working for you and when it is not. As mentioned earlier, it’s easy to be seduced by the technology and the pure “whizz-bang” effect of some capabilities on offer, but are they efficient? Will they really provide the outcomes desired? How do you measure their effectiveness?

And of course there is cost: It is very tempting to insert simulation into every capability and process within Defence, but technology is not cheap and it may well be that the whiteboard and pen, for example, may actually provide a similar outcome at a cheaper cost than a simulation package that will need updating and sustaining throughout its useful life.
The savings goals of the SRP must be balanced against the efficacy of the simulation under consideration.

Project JP3028 will address many of these issues, including the use of common data across platforms and tactical training simulators but, importantly, it will also ensure that future simulators and simulations become more interoperable.

At last years’ SimTectT conference MAJGEN Day noted that other JP3028 deliverables include the requirement to support strategic decision making and facilitate concept development, capability testing and infrastructure management to maximise preparedness whilst reducing cost.

“JP3028 will aid all of these, but the major challenge is how we’re going to own this magnificent (simulation) capability as an entity” concludes Dr Brennan.

If the requirements of the Strategic Reform Programme are to be met, and the savings realised, it is obvious that the use of simulation will increase between now and the end of the decade. It is also obvious that industry will play a major part in the Simulation Roadmap as it unfolds. Whilst there are challenges ahead, projects such as JP3028 will ensure the required governance into the foreseeable future.

 

 

 

 

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