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On the point of radical development. (Simulation Approach).

There can be few more challenging aspects to naval ship's crew training than the provision of simulation to replicate vessel performance. Consequently, it has become the province of comparatively few specialist providers such as Kongsberg, STN Atlas, AAI, Lockheed Martin, Alenia Marconi Systems (AMS) and Transas Marine.

These companies are leaders in their field; it is thus no surprise that some are also important training providers to merchant vessel operators. After all, control from any ship's bridge calls for Similar skills regardless of the type of vessel, although the command of a warship is certain to be more complex. However, although these and action speed tactical trainers (ASTT) provide cost-effective training in many navies, there is an inexorable trend toward the use of embedded training systems.

Embedded training systems will reduce reliance upon land-based facilities and, with personnel currently accounting for 60 per cent of total warship costs, much thought is being devoted to achieving substantial reductions in manning. Automation and advanced technology will help to bring this about and it is expected that the US Navy's next-generation destroyer class will only require one quarter of the current crew numbers.

This will also increase pressure upon the training and simulation industry to provide improved methodologies. Training will have to become an integral part of a ship's operational system; and that means embedded training. Nevertheless, the US Navy is not alone in carrying out a training needs analysis for its DD 21 warships; the Royal Navy's new Type 45 destroyer has also been the subject of careful study. Shrinking budgets are concentrating the minds of naval training experts worldwide.

Indeed, AMS and AAI are co-operating to address market opportunities for the provision of a federated on-board training capability to naval vessels and stimulators in shore integrated facilities. AAI has been a major supplier of combat system trainers for the last 30 years and is the exclusive provider of radar trainers for all US Navy ships that will be part of the Battle Force Tactical Training (BFTT) system. Under the agreement, AMS will supply hardware and software for the generation of the synthetic environment, debrief facilities and control.

While the Royal Navy sees a need for both shipboard and shore-based training, AMS has studied ways to provide command team training onboard the Type 45 destroyer and anticipates that the technology will be retrofitted to the current Type 23s. AMS has carried out much research into reconfiguring the command systems of these vessels to provide classroom training on personal computers.

Although the aim is to provide tactical training at sea, alongside a shore facility or together with other vessels, AMS concludes that there is not yet sufficient bandwidth to permit this. Moreover, it must be possible to instantly switch from the use of embedded training at sea to real operations.

Increased bandwidth will enable greater networked use of embedded training facilities at sea, but shore-based training will certainly not diminish in importance. Indeed, Singapore plans to open the new Changi Naval Training Base next year, its simulators including ship's bridge and damage control trainers. These and advanced tactical trainers will be linked to command and shipboard systems to provide integrated warfare training both ashore and at sea.

A wide area network that will link the Royal Australian Navy's (Ran) on-board training systems with its Maritime Warfare Training Centre is an example of a plan to network its training simulators. Eventually, the Ran will be able to cooperate in combined tactical training with the US Navy's BFTT programme.

Meanwhile, the Chilean Navy is one of the latest to make use of a full-mission ship-handling simulator. Supplied by STN Atlas, the simulator replicates a ship's bridge and is fitted with a 210o display. Barco, 3D Perception, SEOS and Evans & Sutherland are among those that have met the high standards demanded for such bridge simulator visual systems.

However, some additional demands have been posed for existing naval simulators. For example, the Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) full mission trainers supplied by L3's Link Simulation & Training have recently been modified by Unitech to add a new surf-zone to their visual databases. This will enable the simulators to train crews in the LCAC's mine warfare capability.

The Royal Canadian Navy is one of several customers for the PC-based Polaris part task ship-handling simulator developed by Kongsberg Maritime Ship Systems. The company prides itself on the provision of total training tailored to each customer's specific demands, which explains why it has supplied simulators to no less than 14 navies worldwide. Kongsberg's Proteus ASTT can be configured for training to tactical groups on a single platform up to battle group strength. The system can also provide a stand-alone laptop solution for on-board training.

A Naval Tactical and Command Trainer (NTCT) produced by Elbit Systems has sold to eight navies. A shore-based simulator designed to provide training for a wide spectrum of personnel, from cadets to headquarters' staff, the NTCT's modularity facilitates its use as a stand-alone item or as part of a multi-site tactical trainer. Stand-alone and networked training applications are also features of the Virtual Ship simulator systems developed by the Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC). Using commercial off-the-shelf displays and hardware, Virtual Ship can support a wide spectrum of naval applications at low cost. That is good news for training budgets under pressure.
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Author:Walters, Brian
Publication:Armada International
Date:Aug 1, 2002
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