The US Air Force programme AFWERX and Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC)’s STRIKEWERX have initiated a challenge event to develop a B-52 aerial refuelling trainer.

This event, which aims to allow pilots to quickly learn air refuelling in the B-52 bomber, will bring together the best industry and academia solutions that will develop a trainer.

AFGSC’s innovation hub STRIKEWERX is aiding the command’s efforts to build an advanced training capability.

AFGSC chief scientist Dr Donna Senft said: “The B-52 Aerial Refuelling Trainer represents a completely new approach to flight simulators, pushing the envelope for realism and educational efficiency while retaining the low cost of AR/VR flight training.”

The challenge has already started on 16 March and will remain open for submission of industry solutions until 13 April.

In June, the showcase event for ‘selected industry solutions’ will take place.

STRIKEWERX director Russ Mathers explained: “This challenge brings together virtual reality, physical components the pilots can touch and get feedback from, biometric sensors such as eye tracking, and artificial intelligence to replace an in-person instructor pilot that provides a complete solution for training pilots.”

According to AFGSC, the challenge is aimed at solving four parts including the human-machine interface (KMI), which is the ‘replication of control on the flight deck’ and an ‘automated virtual instructor’ to allow self-practice for students.

Furthermore, the challenge also seeks to solve biometrics to provide ‘accurate feedback’ in the training programme and making the model reconfigurable for other aircraft by the ‘swapping out of controls’.