Virtual Training Getting Real

In their book “The ultimate battleground: fighting and winning in the city” (L’ultime champ de bataille: combattre et vaincre en ville), authors Frédérique Chamaud and Pierre Santoni put significant emphasis on the importance of joint forces combat in a battleground that is fast changing. No longer confined to vast spaces, the 21st century main battleground is the city, which complex fabric has turned distinguishing friend from foe, civilian from combatant, into a particularly challenging task. In this context, joint forces combat not only facilitates coordination between forces on the ground and air support, but also contributes to limiting casualties.

The preparation required for this new battleground therefore demands that the forces train in an environment that reproduces these complexities in a way that is as close to the reality as possible. However, “conducting live training is expensive,” said W. Garth Smith, President and co-founder of MetaVR, thus putting significant pressure on companies developing desktop training (DTT) solutions to offer products that allow to cut costs without losing training quality.

Perfect Blend

“As budgets tightened and the need for more close air support/joint fires simulated training continues to grow, the need for near replication of a real-world close air support training environment also increases such that the transition from the virtual environment to real world training range or theatre/area of conflict is not jarring and disorienting,” Smith continued. To this end, the companies that provide armed forces with their training equipment work closely with their customers to provide DTT solutions that carefully balance hardware and software.

For James Ohlman, technical program manager at Pinnacle Solutions, a company delivering training products on aviation mission equipment, “that means that we involve our customers at every possible opportunity to demonstrate progress and get feedback on the product [because] if a student becomes quickly frustrated when using a training system then their focus becomes that frustration, rather than the learning objectives of the system,” said Ohlman. Pinn