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Military Simulation in the Defence Sector: Secret to Mission Success

With its wide-reaching range of benefits, military simulation training is revolutionising the defence sector.

Proper preparation and effective military training can be the difference between success and failure in defence situations. Mission outcomes come down to the qualities of analysis, planning, leadership, and training. These can all be helped by using simulation technology to support training, modelling and analysis.

Defence considerations

Simulation has specific applications in every area of defence. Simulation has become an invaluable tool in defence training for various reasons:

  • Where the cost or risk of using real equipment is too high;
  • Where the use of operational equipment is either too dangerous or environmentally unfriendly
  • When the quality of training is better on simulated equipment
  • Where costly prototypes and hazardous testing can be avoided

Air Force have been utilising flight simulation as an additional element of training pilots for decades. When training pilots, simulation can achieve training objectives and increase familiarity with a large number of different scenarios.

When the pilots partake in real-world situations, the simulation training provides adequate preparation to help the pilot. It gives trainee pilots the time to proceed at their own pace in the safe environment of a simulation, which – counter to what you might think – will actually save you time and money.

Air force simulation technology goes far beyond pilot training. They can be used to run through missions and familiarise pilots with combat tactics before action. It can also support and train ground-based maintenance personnel, UAV or drone operators, and air traffic controllers to develop and hone their skills and learn from mistakes, and thereby enhance their performance in the real world.

On land, ground troops can train their weapon, driving, combat practice and tactical skills in the safety of a simulation. With the state-of-the-art realism that today’s simulation technology provides, combat techniques can be performed over and over before practising them in higher risk environments.

Navies use simulations to give detailed training on running complex equipment, without requiring the physical ship, submarine or aircraft. Cost savings and effectiveness in this area are tremendous when you consider the training possibilities. Ship systems – such as weapon systems operations, navigation, and damage control – can be accurately replicated. This gives maritime simulation operators the opportunity to familiarise trainees with numerous scenarios that feel far more realistic and authentic than video or classroom material.

The combined efforts of the army, navy, and air force can be practised and coordinated through modern simulation technologies, allowing enhanced co-operation and better execution of joint operations.

When carefully carried out, these military simulation applications can bring many advantages to every element of the armed forces.

Cost savings

In the defence sector, a huge barrier has always been the cost of training and equipment. With advancements in simulation capabilities, this is no longer the case. With cost-effective options for hardware and software simulation tools, reports show that 95% of the training needs are met at less than 10% of the cost of traditional methods. Even better, these tools are approximately 1-5% of the cost of live training.

The defence procurement process can suffer from the bloat of external analysts and limited opportunities for demonstration. But when the latest simulation technology becomes a part of procurement, equipment manufacturers can demonstrate the capabilities of many of these systems in the comfort of a modern office environment.

Before purchasing a solution, customers can sample a bespoke simulation that mirrors exactly what they want. Typical defence procurement simulations also offer realistic replications of the equipment for sale, such as command and control systems.

Previously, it was rarely possible to use these systems unless they had been bought in advance. Simulation technology breaks down this barrier and offers greater transparency for the customer. Manufacturer claims can be tested before spending vast sums of money.

Weapon systems evaluation and testing simulations also drive down costs for the manufacturers. They allow realistic concept development and testing before a prototype has been built, reducing rollout time and the chance that it ends in failure.

Mission support

Diving into the specifics of mission support, sophisticated simulation systems can provide a variety of useful functions. They offer opportunities to learn from previous operations and apply them to future plans.

Operational procedures can be evaluated and refined in much greater detail using data insight and modelling. This is achievable thanks to the ability to replicate a specific terrain, environment, scenarios, forces, and easily review, reset and rerun the simulated operation.

Detailed and specific customisation makes it easier to explore tactical options for any scenario. In this way, the technology fully functions as a decision support system which takes into account the mission environment. It can aid approach and escape route planning. It helps operations analyse key environmental factors that directly impact weapon or sensor effectiveness, and therefore mission success. These can include such things as the ducting effects in radar propagation and underwater sound propagation.

With simulation tools at their disposal, a force’s awareness of its capabilities in the operational environment is vastly improved. It can plan and train for, and then respond to, various scenarios in a more effective and safer manner.

Training ground forces

Simulation technology now forms an essential part of basic and advanced training for a wide variety of roles in the armed forces and the broader defence sector.

When it comes to understanding systems, trainees can learn from them in a highly realistic and detailed way. With regards to complex task learning using expensive and potentially dangerous equipment, simulations can support, guide, and familiarise users through the process, with reduced risk to personnel and equipment.

Tactical training using simulation is normally split into computer-based training and part-task trainers to train these critical skills. Examples include:

  • Training using simulation for infantry fighting vehicle crew
  • Operating a submarine with emphasis on the dynamic behaviours present at sea
  • Driving an AFV such as a tank through vastly different terrains
  • Handling a warship’s sonar system under specific conditions
  • Using specific weapon systems on board naval vessels by practising with remote-control weapon simulators

Modelling and simulation technologies can even replicate the entire defence missions, taking into account the complex scenarios and environments with state-of-the-art software. At a unit level, simulators can train crews and teams to work together in everything from tactical manoeuvres, to flight operations, to anti-submarine warfare, to mechanised infantry platoon coordination.

The future of simulation will allow armies, air forces, and navies to run joint synthetic training and mission preparation capabilities. This will familiarise interactions between different units and arms for greater mission success.

In a real-world scenario, a fighter bomber, support frigate, land-based spotter, and the joint fire support team can all practice critical interaction and co-operation before stepping into actual physical training. Live simulation enables tactical training for individuals, entire units, and major combat formations to prepare for the complexities of real-world defence operations at unit and battalion level.

Training defence leaders

The simulation technology goes beyond individual soldier, sailor or pilot training. Constructive simulations can train military leaders to make better decisions at an operational level. Complex environments can be replicated in simulations that include over 1,000 elements.

Data on human behaviour helps simulate realistic patterns of life and opposing forces, that helps leaders test defence strategy and tactics under various parameters and rules of engagement.

Training in this way by no means offers complete preparation for real-world defence missions. However, when simulations are used as part of a training programme and/or mission analysis, they save critical resources and allow more efficient training when these systems or tasks are carried out in real life.

The future of military simulation technology

Simulation technology applications can be seen at practically every level of defence training programmes and analysis. The reduction in training cost has allowed vital resources to be channelled into greater development, technology, and support for the defence sector.

As the simulation technology continues to develop over the coming decades, defence applications will expand its effectiveness and cost-efficiency. It will enhance friendly force safety. Mission intelligence and analysis will grow in depth and detail, allowing leaders to make better decisions and refine key processes with greater scrutiny.

A rapidly evolving world needs highly adaptable technology. Simulation technology in the defence sector allows for greater understanding of complex environments and scenarios. Equipped with this intelligence, mission success is far more likely.

If you’d like to find out more about how simulation can support your training needs, please get in touch with us. No matter your area of interest, we have a solution for your simulation, modelling, analysis and virtual reality needs.

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