Boeing to develop virtual training system for RAF and USAF aircrews

Hemanth Kumar and Talal Husseini 20 May 2019 (Last Updated May 20th, 2019 11:22)

The UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) has awarded a contract to Boeing Defence UK to provide a virtual training system for the Royal Air Force (RAF) pilots and their US Air Force (USAF) counterparts.

Boeing to develop virtual training system for RAF and USAF aircrews
Boeing has received a contract from the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) to provide a virtual training system for the Royal Air Force (RAF) pilots. Credit: US Air Force/Sean Worrell.

The UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) has awarded a contract to Boeing Defence UK to provide a virtual training system for the Royal Air Force (RAF) pilots and their US Air Force (USAF) counterparts.

To be designed and built in the UK, the RAF virtual training system will allow crews and supporting ground forces to train together in multiple locations.

Flight simulator and synthetic training portfolio team leader Russ Cole said: “The award of this contract heralds a 21st century capability that will transform the ability of the RAF to undertake collective operations, tactics and procedures training in the synthetic environment that cannot be performed in the live environment.

“We are looking forward to working with Boeing over the next few years to design, build, deliver and operate a state-of-the-art training hub at the centre of a collective training web capability.”

The £36m Defence Operational Training Capability (Air) Core System & Services contract was announced during defence procurement minister Stuart Andrew’s visit to RAF Waddington.

Known as Gladiator, the simulation technology will be able to replicate up to three real-life scenarios simultaneously and independently of each other.

Meant to be installed at RAF Waddington, the capability will enable British pilots to undertake simultaneous, virtual exercises with their US counterparts across the Atlantic.

Andrew said: “This synthetic training technology offers the RAF a cost-effective, powerful and safe way to prepare our aircrew for the complex threats they will face on the battlefield.

“The UK-US defence partnership is already the deepest and most advanced of any two countries and now our pilots will be able to train more closely than ever.”

The RAF virtual training system is expected to allow pilots to exercise capabilities, tactics and procedures that would not be otherwise possible in the live environment.

“The UK-US defence partnership is already the deepest and most advanced of any two countries and now our pilots will be able to train for the frontline more closely than ever.”

Under the contract, Boeing will design and manufacture the simulation systems and software within two years. The contract scope also includes five years of support.

The company will design and manufacture the software in Hampshire and Bristol. The work is expected to sustain 40 jobs across the UK and the technology will be made available to aircrew to start training in autumn 2021.

The simulation systems will be initially used to enable Eurofighter Typhoon pilots to fly virtual missions alongside their counterpart aircrews in America.

Pilots will be able to interact with the UK and US Joint Terminal Attack Controllers who direct combat aircraft from an advanced ground-based position.

Thereafter, the package will be extended to F-35 Lightning fighter jets by September 2021.

The RAF also plans to use the technology for Boeing’s 737 Wedgetail early warning radar aircraft in the future.