Machine guns are wonders of engineering. They handle hundred of rounds per minute and thousands of rounds over a lifetime. They deal with the massive heat and gas pressure as the rounds fire. And, they operate in the toughest environments and can be exposed to shock, damage, or wear. Really, they’re pretty dependable. But, what happens when the weapon won’t fire? Worse, what happens when your weapon won’t fire but the enemy’s weapon will fire?
Weapons can malfunction in many ways. Each malfunction requires specific responses. When does the soldier learn to deal with the malfunctions? How? Many malfunctions can be dangerous. Live weapons can’t have the malfunction induced. There are procedures manuals and dry fire drills that work through the remedial steps. But, those don’t show exactly that the remedial action worked and the weapon can truly fire again. Many defense services use simulated weapon trainers for general shooting training or marksmanship. Often, the trainers don’t include the potential malfunctions. In many weapon simulators, the machine gun always works perfectly. It doesn’t matter how many rounds are ‘fired’ or how hot or dirty an actual weapon would be if used as it is in the simulator. Guns do jam in the real world. Soldiers must be able to overcome a weapon malfunction. Lives may be counting on that weapon working. Real training in the simulator with realistic malfunctions is key. It’s the safe, effective way to practice.
Think about malfunctions when considering a replica weapon training system. Training both normal operations and malfunctions builds capable gunners in the field. Consider the following when looking at gunnery trainers. The key for training malfunctions is having both malfunctions and remedial actions. The student should be able to identify the problem and resolve it. The system must include sensors to monitor the weapon status and gunner actions. The system must include logic to clear the malfunction only after corrective actions. The instructor should be able to confirm the remedial actions. The instructor should have capability to monitor the student and the weapon status remotely. It’s key to have both capabilities. Training starts with the instructor teaching right over-the-shoulder. It moves to remote observation where skilled students operate solo. The weapon system should support both training types.