Dubai Air Show

New technology from Thales could revolutionize fighter pilot training

 - December 7, 2006, 9:32 AM

Thales has developed a new product called “interactive embedded simulation” that could very well become a new industry benchmark in training and simulation rather than a passing catchphrase. The concept is the brainchild of the company’s director for business development-Asia, Gen. (ret.) Gerard Le Bretton.

“Previous attempts by other firms to embed training modes inside the cockpit of an aircraft have been somewhat flawed,” he told Aviation International News. “If it is just one aircraft flying a mission and responding to the electronic training simulation, the pilot will become fixated on his cockpit screen and he will never learn the lesson that he has to be able to reconcile what he sees on the screen with what is going on outside the cockpit in the real world.

The Thales concept involves using two training aircraft flying against one another–one with a radar simulator on board and the other with an electronic warfare (EW) simulator. The two aircraft are datalinked so that they are flying a real mission against one another and using the library of radar and EW modes that are onboard the training aircraft.

There are two major benefits to this type of a training architecture. One is that having two training aircraft with two-man air crews flying against one another creates a great deal of synergism and provides the most cost-efficient training regime. “With three to four flights in this trainer-versus-trainer scenario we can give a pilot the same level of experience and improvement in his skills in responding to electronic warfare interference that would normally be possible only with twice that number of flights in a single-seat fighter,” Le Bretton explained. “The trainer is also much cheaper per flight hour to operate, which greatly reduces the cost.”

The other benefit, expained Le Bretton, is that this embedded simulator-to-simulator datatlink approach gives a pilot maximum exposure to EW threats, but without compromising threat and EW libraries. “Everyone is out there listening when you turn on your EW systems, so this is the only approach that is secure,” he said.

Thales has been looking at several platforms as candidates for their interactive embedded simulation and sees the new Korea Aerospace Industries Lockheed Martin T-50 Golden Eagle as a perfect fit, since it is the only supersonic trainer available at the moment. However, his technology could be applied to any training platform.