VR equipment.
CAE Sprint VR Trainer – Student using VR equipment. (Ascent)

The UK’s Royal Air Force is trailing ways that it can improve synthetic fight training for fast jet pilots using virtual reality (VR).

Ascent Flight Training, a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Babcock International, is contracted to deliver pilot training to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) through the UK Military Flying Training System (UKMFTS) contract.

The training trials using VR are being conducted at RAF Valley in Wales using upgraded Lockheed Martin synthetic systems as well as CAE’s Sprint VR trainer. Sprint VR combines physical controls as well as high definition VR headsets and integrated haptics. Image generation is through CAE’s Medallion image generator and CAE Rise that allows trainers to assess a student’s progress.

In addition to ground-based flight training, other skills will be practiced such as formation flying and a variety of operational/combat scenarios. The trials will be completed during the summer with the results helping to formulate the future training structure used in UKMFTS.

“We aim to transform fast jet training and reduce the time it takes for our students to reach the front-line,” stated Tim James, Ascent’s managing director.

The objective of the trials is to increase student training capacity through the UKMFTS. This follows the vision shared by Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston at the Global Air Chiefs’ conference on Wednesday 14 July that he sees “a future where almost all training, force generation, and mission planning and rehearsal is done in a synthetic environment.”

by Andrew Drwiega