Bring on the Bad Guys … Constructively

Demonstration at Luke Air Force Base’s Networked Training Center shows benefit of integrating live, virtual and constructive elements for F-16 pilot training.

Four F-16 pilots are flying in an air-to-ground training sortie to practice weapons employment. During the mission, the pilots will have to fight their way to a target area past four MiG-29 adversaries.

If live, this training event would involve eight aircraft, but since it’s a live-virtual-constructive (LVC) exercise, only two F-16s are flying. The other F-16s are virtual participants from simulators at the Lockheed Martin-managed Networked Training Center at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona. And while the four MiG-29s act like real adversaries, they’re computer generated.

The U.S. Air Force will demonstrate this scenario in late April using a new mission control system for F-16 LVC training at Luke Air Force Base. The system was developed under funding acquired by the Air Force Research Laboratory through the Air Force Smart Operations 21 program.  Rickard Consulting Group led program management for the control system.

 “The objective is to effectively prepare pilots for combat through realistic training scenarios,” said Robert McCutchen, Lockheed Martin F-16 subject matter expert at the Networked Training Center with more than 5,000 fighter hours logged in the F-16.

“The ability to repetitively train pilots for complex adversarial encounters is difficult to service purely by live aircraft in today’s resource-constrained environment. LVC events take mission readiness to a new level by allowing pilots to experience the challenging environments they could face in combat,” said McCutchen.

Maj. Gen. Brett T. Williams, director of Operations, Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, Plans and Requirements, Headquarters USAF, addressed LVC training during the last Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference.

“In the most strategic sense we have a dynamic going on where we have been constantly at war for over 20 years and particularly in the last 10 years,” Williams said in an interview at the conference.  “The challenge is how do we get back to having the right amount of training and readiness across the full spectrum of capability for the Air Force.”

“As a result, for two reasons we see LVC as important – the first is because of resources and, second, there are things that can only be trained to in a virtual and constructive environment,” said Williams.

After the Luke Air Force Base LVC demonstration, Lockheed Martin will work with the Air Force to integrate the LVC capabilities in the Networked Training Center and live fly to enhance F-16 pilot training.

Through efforts like the one at Luke, Lockheed Martin is focused on developing an LVC architecture that spans aviation, ground, space, cyber and maritime domains.  With advancements in F-16 LVC training, lessons learned and capabilities can also be applied to fourth and fifth generation fighter training.

Luke Air Force Base’s Networked Training Center

F-16 pilots train at Luke Air Force Base’s Networked Training Center in this simulator equipped with four cockpits. Each cockpit has a 360 degree field of view using a projector system with eleven panels displaying photo-realistic color graphics. Typical missions include networking two or four cockpits for advanced air-to-air training against multiple constructive adversaries and teaching air-to-ground missions such as surface attack tactics, close air support and large force employment.  In addition, the simulator can be networked for distributed training events such as Virtual Flag or with LVC. Photo courtesy of Jim Haseltine