Case Study: C-130J Training
The training curriculum for training on the C130J is as under:-
Simulators can bring realism to training where none exists, not just for the training of an individual but an entire team…
- Conversion Training – 80 hours entirely on a full motion simulator.
- Mission Training for All Roles – 80 hours on simulator plus 25 hours of actual flying.
- Overall – 160 hours of simulator training plus only 25 hours of actual flying.
The end product is a fully operational pilot cleared on all tactical roles of the aircraft in six months with minimal flying on the aircraft.
The C-130J simulator at Little Rock, USA, runs 20 hours a day from 0600 to 0200 hours the next day. Four hours of maintenance is planned from 0200 to 0600 hours. The simulator is operational five days a week and runs for at least 400 hours a month. This is also the manner in which commercial airlines utilise their simulators. Simulators are housed in air conditioned environment and can operate continuously without any requirement of cooling time. Hence, the longer the simulator is kept running, the better the utilisation. Typically, the syllabus on the simulator for under-training pilots is undertaken by two ‘simulator partners’ who are paired for the full conversion/ training period. A pair of trainees flies two hours each, from the right and left seat during a four-hour session. Hence, five batches i.e. ideally, ten pilots occupy the simulator in an operating cycle of 20 hours. The other batch on the off day, undertakes ground training. This is the best way to recover the investment on the simulator.
In order to maintain an edge operationally, there is a requirement to provide high-end military flight simulators for flying training. Simulators must have high fidelity, large Field-of-View (FoV) image generation, large visual data-base of terrain that the IAF operates in and high resolution displays apart from being energy efficient and capable of long hours of operations. To say the least, the simulators should be available for a minimum of eight hours daily for five days a week, for 48 weeks a year, i.e. 1,920 hours annually, maintaining an average serviceability of at least 92 per cent.
The Indian Armed Forces is today technology-intensive and uses highly sophisticated equipment.
Flying missions in the military are different from those in civil aviation. Special skills are required to fly in varied configurations and over inhospitable terrain at tree-top levels. Training, therefore, needs to be appropriately tailored. In addition to flying per se, military simulators require mission training capabilities such as targeting, gunnery, practice bombing and simulation of the Electronic Warfare. There is also a requirement to simulate a ‘package’ of the aircraft, as would be required for a particular type of mission. These requirements would be more or less common to any type of military aircraft, be it a trainer, fighter, transport aircraft or helicopters. Military simulators for large transport aircraft need motion platforms for cues of real movement.
Simulator training is applicable not only to the IAF but also to the civil aviation sector. Currently, there are about 1,280 Full Flight Simulators (FFS) in operation worldwide certified for pilot training in the Commercial Air Transport (CAT) sector by the relevant National Civil Aviation Regulatory Authorities. Out of these, about 550 are in the US, 75 in the UK, 60 in China, 50 each in Germany and Japan and 40 in France. In India, the numbers can be counted on one’s finger tips. Clearly, much needs to be done on this front.
Other Simulation Requirements
The Indian Armed Forces today are technology-intensive and uses highly sophisticated equipment. Other than aircraft simulators, there is a large requirement for Computer Based Training (CBT) and working models with the need to move to simulation, away from the old cut or exploded models. Simulators for Remotely Piloted Vehicles, ATC, vehicle operators and weapon handling are required in adequate numbers at the training institutes.
In India, the numbers of simulators can be counted on fingers tips.
Another military-specific requirement is war-game simulation. Full-scale military exercises or even on smaller scale, are not always feasible or even desirable. Apart from availability of resources, men, material and money in the present world order, the complexity of contingencies and hence the need for simulations has increased. Modern information gathering technology provides the Commander with a plethora of information from various sources that renders decision-making difficult. There is an ever-increasing requirement, therefore, to carry out these exercises, more as command and information exercises with software to generate the accurate forecasting of results. Inroads have been made by the Armed Forces on their own, but many factors affect success of these programmes and their timely completion, thus leading to cost and time overruns as also technology obsolescence. These programmes need to use evolving technology development in software with the strong IT base that India has.
Outsourcing and Private Partnership
The model followed by the RAF needs a mention. Thales UK is not only a supplier of crucial military technology but also works in close collaboration with the UK MoD to provide training on Lynx Mk-7 and Mk-9 helicopters. The Company also undertakes training for Tucano, Tornado, Jaguar, Tristar, VC-10, C-130 and Sea King. Similar examples are available in other parts of the world. The strong IT industry in India provides the potential for India be a hub for production and operation of simulators, for both domestic and global markets. In Bengaluru itself there are many companies that are associated with simulation technology to whom work-packages can be outsourced. The IAF and the Industry need to get into long term partnership.
The IAF and the Industry need to get into long term partnership.
Training is a command responsibility. Air warriors need to be trained to be proficient on the platforms and weapon systems that they would be required to operate. They need to be trained to operate singly, as a part of a crew, as part of a small team or at the command level. The fundamental of peacetime training is to reproduce near real-time operational conditions so as to prove the modified adage, “The more you train in peace, the less you bleed in war.”
To be stating the obvious:
- Simulation solutions are needed. No part of the training can exclude the use of these devices to improve training efficiency and to reduce the ever-increasing cost.
- Aircraft simulators have reached a stage where they can be substituted to a large extent for training on actual aircraft.
- The IAF needs to acquire present generation simulators for it to meet the training challenges, to cut training costs and to improve efficiency.
- In order to obtain the best results, war-game simulations require present day and futuristic technology to be integrated.
- All this offers lucrative opportunities for the industry, a long-term industry-defence participation will be a win-win situation for both.