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Investment and innovation enhance training and simulation
Innovation boosts inflation-battered budgets
Traditional methods of training have evolved significantly in recent decades, with the digitalisation of the battlefield looming large and increasing technical skills being required in the operation of drones, smart weapons, communications equipment etc. Meanwhile, traditional forms of training are becoming increasingly expensive, leading them to be supplemented by a variety of new approaches.
The dawn of virtual, mixed and extended reality platforms is of great consequence in the world of military training and simulations, allow for more flexible, adaptable scenarios to be tested, with less cost, need for travel, and the logistics of physical training ranges for example. These innovations are timely given that whilst military budgets are on the rise, the corrosive impacts of inflation threaten the real-term value of such rises. This means that whilst some additional training budgets may be allocated, there is a need to make existing training methods more financially efficient.
Back in 2021, the British Army trialled VR training technology, with initial indications suggesting that it was particularly useful for mounted units. The outcome of the trial was a suggestion that it be utilised to complement (or add value to) existing training, as trainers learn what roles are best suited to VR training. It is clear that VR has potential, although it must be applied in ways which provide the most tangible, real-life scenario training possible, if it is to truly become standard practice.
Market movements in training and simulation
Shephard notes how the sale of Bohemia Interactive Simulations to BAE Systems and, RUAG’s T&S assets to Thales, highlight how primes are seeking out innovative and specialised companies to incorporate novel approaches into their portfolios. One particular reason is that it improves the offerings primes can make to procurement organisations when supporting the construction and supply of military assets, as they demonstrate new training methods and techniques to better prepare front-line users.
CAE however continues its domination of the T&S sector, with some high-level training contracts being won. Perhaps most notably, earlier this year CAE won the German Air Force’s ab-initio pilot training contract for an initial term of seven years.
New for the sector is a focus on space, with more governments moving to incorporate the ‘final frontier’ into the active domains through which they may do battle. By bringing space into air power strategy, countries such as Britain and France are increasingly in need of training to best prepare their personnel in this new approach.
The Ukraine advantage
The ability to learn from the Russo-Ukrainian war is a significant advantage for NATO allies as it demonstrates in real-time the utility of prioritising certain training or technologies over others. The war exemplifies how the days of main battle tanks, battlefield artillery and combat engineering are not over. Whilst the addition of drones of various types have been added into the mix, alongside the prevalence of NLAWs/Javelins and other anti-tank weapons, the operation of them all require nimble training regimes.
The importance of training has been clear where a lack of training provided to the invading forces has been painfully evident as Russian regiments (and their tactics) have fallen short in a number of areas since the war begun. MOD intelligence reveals that Russian troops and draftees have been found wanting when it comes to training, experience, pay and equipment. This became apparent in Russia’s mobilisation effort earlier this year, which required huge amounts of military resources, on its assumption it would take Kiev within weeks. Russian forces’ performance is in stark contrast to that of the Ukrainian troops who have received training from the UK and other European nations, whilst Russia experiences increasing isolation.
Central and Eastern Europe invest in training
As a result of the war in Ukraine, several neighbouring European countries have enhanced, upgraded or renewed focus upon their training regimes.
Poland (by far the largest spender on training in eastern Europe), is looking to train its forces in the use of its 250 new M1A2 Abrams MBTs, in a major vote of confidence in the tank. If it goes through, Poland will likely obtain two Longbow crew trainers for its 96 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters it is looking to acquire from the US. Georgia is improving its ability to setup mobile ranges that can be deployed for training on land, with movable targets and scenarios.
Slovakia is integrating new flight simulator tech into its training mix, in an effort to modernise their T&S regime/s. Lithuania is working with Thales to enable its new small-arms trainer, using virtual reality technologies. Elsewhere in Eastern Europe, Latvia and Slovenia are upgrading their training on JTAC systems, in partnership with DefenseTek.
This year perhaps like no other, training and simulation has been shown to give cost efficiency and operational effectiveness, with collaboration the key to success.
Source: Shephard "Military Training and Simulation Handbook (Digital)". Since 1981 Shephard has led the way in business information in the Defence sector. Shephard helps Identify opportunities with Defence Insight, keep decision-makers in-the-know with News, lead the minds of the industry with our digital publications.