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British defense services provider Inzpire showcased its Targeted Fidelity Simulator (TFS) at the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) event in London in early September. The new system promises a synthetic training environment completely bespoke to individual training requirements without unnecessary cost and complexity.
“Almost every element of the system is customizable, and can deliver the level of fidelity that the customer requires,” said Chris Raynes, head of Inzpire’s helicopter services division. “Every customer’s requirement is different,” he explained. “But whether they want to focus on emergency drills or tactical procedures, the TFS can be adapted to meet their specific priorities and can also be linked to other modules locally or remotely to deliver federated training.”
The module being demonstrated at DSEI was using Bohemia Interactive Simulations’ Virtual Battle Space Blue IG engine, which is a whole-earth renderer capable of accepting many different industry-standard object formats. This allows any location on earth to be modeled and scenery customized. However, with its emphasis on total customization, the TFS is designed to be software agnostic and so can operate with a variety of image generators.
Inzpire itself has a track record of delivering training to military customers, through live aviation, synthetic training, and exercise coordination. The company has staff embedded in the U.K.’s Air Battlespace Training Centre and provides qualified helicopter instructors to the U.K.’s AH-64 Apache force.
The simulator module on display at DSEI was a generic Airbus EC135 cockpit, with imagery directly projected onto a half dome. Raynes pointed out that every aspect of the specification of the sim is customizable. “The flight model here is proven to be capable of certification up to EASA full flight simulator standards,” he said. “But customers that don’t need that fidelity aren’t tied to it. The number and type of projectors could be changed, and the system is completely virtual reality [VR] compatible. We can even deliver crew training in a module where the pilots have a projected image and the rear crew are in VR.”
“The aim is not to provide the highest level of fidelity,” Raynes continued. “But rather to provide a whole-mission simulation where the focus is on specific training requirements.”
The demonstration scenario focused on the ability of the device to handle not only complex flight models but also a tactical scenario using both human-controlled units and artificial intelligence (AI) entities. Despite being only a level-B model, the flight dynamics were convincing enough to be recognizable as an EC135 and invoke the cognitive demands involved in flying the aircraft. The short set-piece involved coordination with troop lift and attack helicopters as well as artillery, demonstrating the capability of the TFS to model a relatively complex tactical environment, as well as a range of sensors such as electro-optical and infra-red cameras. While the scenario was exclusively helicopter-focused, the TFS is capable of modeling other aircraft and ground vehicles, including fast-jets.
The capability of the system to model malfunctions and system failures was also demonstrated, with a representation of first a single, then double engine failure necessitating an autorotative landing. All the malfunctions were certainly delivered at a fidelity that would be sufficient for crew procedure training.
The demonstration unit, including the cockpit module, filled an area of approximately 12 feet (four meters) square, and the whole scenario was generated and run by a single instructor. This footprint, along with the capability of the system to recreate scenarios involving combined air and ground forces as well as joint fires, seems likely to make this kind of system attractive to special operations forces, as Raynes explained. “Mission rehearsal is certainly one area that the TFS could be employed, particularly given its deployability and its ability to operate remotely,” he noted. “The system includes a complete earth model with basic terrain database, but custom terrain and objects can be created easily, either by the end-user or by us, and then delivered digitally.”
“The main focus of the TFS is customizability,” said Raynes. “It’s a cliché for people in my position to say that we are led by the customer but in this case, it really is true. We can deliver a flight model, systems emulation, and a customizable scenario that is specifically tailored to the areas in which our customer needs to train.”
The value of such customizability rests almost entirely on being able to deliver realistic scenarios, a capability that can only be delivered by personal expertise. For this, Inzpire will likely depend on the vast experience of its largely former-military staff. The company’s challenge will now be to convince customers that the flexibility of its TFS offers a significant advantage over the narrower focus of more traditional synthetic systems.