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F/A-22 pilots begin training at Tyndall AFB: planned upgrades: air-to-ground capabilities, connectivity with other trainers.

Air Force F/A-22 student pilots are scheduled to begin training in six new simulators recently delivered at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. Two are full-mission trainers and four are weapons and tactics trainers.

All F/A-22 pilots will train at Tyndall. The Boeing Company is charged with developing and implementing the entire F/A-22 training system for both pilots and maintainers.

In addition to the full mission trainer, and weapons and tactics trainer, Boeing also developed an egress procedures trainer.

The entire training program is worth $720 million: $220 million for 10 prototype trainers and courseware, and $500 million for 96 production trainers. Boeing is a one-third partner in the F/A-22 aircraft program, but has 100 percent of the trainer work. Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor for the aircraft.

The Air Force already has a training facility at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. After Tyndall, next comes Langley, in Virginia, and the Shepard maintenance facility, in Wichita Falls, Texas.

The first operational F/A-22 Raptor was delivered to the schoolhouse at Tyndall on Sept. 26. The Raptor eventually will replace the F-15 Eagle.

The 325th Fighter Wing, which trains F-15 pilots, air-battle managers, intelligence officers and air traffic controllers, was selected as the site for the F/A-22 pilot training program in August 2000.

Tyndall is expected to receive 50 Raptors over the next two to three years.

The first six simulators represent one-tenth of the overall training system deliveries Boeing plans for the next 10 years, said Pamela P. Valdez, Boeing F/A-22 training system manager.

The full-mission trainer has a 360-degree high-fidelity display. The weapons and tactics trainer, with less visual fidelity, was designed for hands-on throttle and stick proficiency.

All pilot instructors are Boeing employees, said Norm Riegsecker, the company's pilot training manager for the F/A-22. "They are building and testing missions, and making sure they are proficient in the operation of devices."

Initially, the training will be only for air-to-air operations. That is because the original F-22 (before it was renamed F/A-22) was not designed as a primary ground attack platform, but as an air superiority fighter. "The current F/A-22 avionics software (the operational flight program) does not support air-to-ground," said Riegsecker. "This will be part of the program in the near future."

Although air-to-ground is part of the baseline capability, "it is neither on the air vehicle yet nor in our simulator," he said.

L-3 Communications Link Division is the primary supplier of the F/A-22 pilot training devices, and is providing five of the seven maintenance devices.

The visual displays and imagery are from Silicon Graphics Inc. SGI supplies the out-the-window views, cockpit displays and simulation of aircraft behavior. A head-tracking system monitors pilot head movement to display high-resolution images in whatever direction the pilot looks.

There are no plans to link the F/A-22 simulator with an air operations center, said Riegsecker. Rather, an instructor will "role-play" the air war commander.

The Air Force and Boeing, meanwhile, are studying options for how to network the F/A-22 pilot training simulator with other aircraft trainers. But it is unlikely that the F/A-22 trainer will be integrated with other simulators until the actual aircraft becomes operational, possibly in 2005.

Under a program called Distributed Mission Operations, the Air Force plans to create a virtual environment connecting its major weapon-systems trainers. The DMO concept is replacing what used to be called Distributed Mission Training, or DMT, conceived as a web of simulators that operates over a distributed wide-area net throughout the United States.

Existing DMT trainers include an F-15 and an F-16 four-ship trainer, and an AWACS early-warning and control aircraft simulator.

The F/A-22 system program office is "anticipating a future requirement to connect to the DMT backbone and to interface with F-15, F-16 and AWACS," said Valdez.

"We did not have a DMT requirement in our specifications," she explained. "Our requirement is to just work internally within the schoolhouse."

But it is likely that the F/A-22 will need to, eventually, become part of the DMO network, she noted.

"We have a study under way to try to work out the details of how to interface the F/A-22 simulators in the DMO environment," Valdez said. The Air Force has a "very structured plan as to when they are going to interface various weapon systems into the DMO backbone."

Ideally, the Air Force would want to have the F/A-22 "interface with DMO right around the time it goes operational, in 2005," she said. That may not happen, however, given the overall plan for DMO.

"The F-15, F-16 and AWACS are a priority" in the DMO program, Valdez said. "The newer airframes will interface with DMO at an appropriate time, when the aircraft is operational."

It will be relatively painless to connect the F/A-22 trainer, she said, because it was designed with a High Level Architecture (HLA) backbone.

Industry sources cautioned, however, that the DMO program, regardless of what decisions the Air Force makes about the F/A-22 trainer, continues to be hampered by the difficulties of having to interconnect technologies from multiple companies. Two years ago, the Air Force awarded TRW (now Northrop Grumman) a contract to integrate the F-15, F-16 and AWACS DMT trainers. The contracts for the trainers already had been awarded several years before.

The integrator, said one source, "came in last and they should have been first."
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Author:Erwin, Sandra I.
Publication:National Defense
Date:Nov 1, 2003
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