ACME produces machine gun simulators that give the full-force, full rate of recoil feel of the actual weapon in a full scale gun replica that can be mounted on any aircraft, watercraft or vehicle simulator
Our machine gun simulators use a unique, patented all-electric Gun Active Recoil system within the mounting cradle to provide the recoil. ACME’s gun active recoil is the only weapon training system available anywhere that provides training critical, full force recoil using an electric system.
ACME produces unique machine gun weapon training systems that feature full-force, all-electric recoil at full rate of fire.
ACME’s weapon training systems combine highly realistic replica (non-weapon) guns, our patented, Gun Active Recoil System (GAR®) weapon cradle, and the electronics to drive it.
This system offers enormous benefits for the user:
- ACME’s replica non-guns look, feel, and function like real weapons and are packed with technology:
- Weapons’ internal sensors and an embedded computer application manage weapon state & performance parameters as well as operator actions.
- Weapon malfunctions such out-of-ammo, mis-fire, cook-offs, sluggish fire, and jams are instantly insertable. And as an additional advantage, no need to lock the non-guns in the armory after training. The all-electric system plugs right into the wall; no pneumatics and no blanks. The full-force recoil is tunable to SME satisfaction and rate of fire is selectable in real-time.
- ACME’s unique system recoils the weapon mount, not the weapon. This makes the system very versatile:
- A single GAR® serves multiple weapons. The GAR® replicates the actual Mk-64 weapon mount and can mount & recoil an M2, M240, M249, or Mk-19 weapon.
- The key benefit is the true, full-force recoil that is absolutely fundamental to realistic training. Its importance can’t be overstated.
- Full-force recoil realistically and continuously affects weapon sighting and target engagement
- Students must anticipate and compensate for the recoil, constantly reacquiring the target
- Anything less than full force recoil is simply negative training
- ACME’s weapon training systems provide a unique combination of electric power, sophisticated training technologies, and ultra realistic recoil.
- The result is true-to-life weapon training without the shooting range.
Latest ACME Gun Active Recoil News
You can save a ton of money using a weapon simulator. The key is having an ultra-realistic replica weapon trainer that looks, feels, and functions just like the actual weapon.
The replica weapon must be able to train the same skills that gunners learn on the range. Students must be able to practice loading, aiming, trigger control, bursts, and adapting to recoil effects. The trainer must monitor the student gunner actions and report status to the instructor.
ACME makes replica machine gun trainers that meet these training needs and more. Here’s how an ACME gun trainer can save you a million each year.
Qualifying machine gunners is not cheap. It takes weapons, ranges, armories, instructors, and ammunition. Ammunition is not cheap. And machine guns use a lot of ammunition.
Let’s start calculating the savings by looking at the rate of fire. Just how many bullets are consumed?
The maximum rate of fire varies between specific M2 weapon type from 400-575 rounds per minute. Aviation weapons fire much quicker, 800-1100 RPM.
M2’s are normally fired in bursts and allowed to cool between the bursts. Sustained rate of fire is less than 40 rounds per minute. Rapid rate of fire is more than 40 rounds per minute. Cyclic rate is 400-500 rounds per minute. Most gunners fire at the Sustained rate.
Let’s assume that in an 8-hour training day, the replica weapon fires for a total of two hours. Using a simulator for 2-hours a day is rather conservative. ACME has customers who use our replica weapon systems for two or three-times that notional rate per day. We’ll also assume that the trainer is used just 4 days a week. Again, this is conservative usage for simulators. We’ll estimate the trainer is used just 48 weeks a year to support non-training times.
Next, consider the cost of ammunition. Ammunition for M2 .50 caliber weapons cost per round ranges from about 2-5 dollars. Now, let’s calculate total savings using the simulator, just in ammunition costs.
We’ll look at the cheapest rate using our hypothetical scenario at the Sustained Rate of Fire:
- 40 RPM rate of fire * 120 minutes = 4,800 rounds
- 4,800 rounds per day * 4 days per week = 19,200 rounds
- 19, 200 rounds * 48 weeks = 921,600 rounds
- 921,600 rounds * $2 per round = $1,843,200
Remember riding in a car when you were a kid and you would put your hand out the window? You could hold your hand flat and zoom your arm up and down like an airplane. Or you might hold your hand flat against the wind, relax your arm and just let the air blow your arm back. Those same airstream forces work on the barrel of a machine gun poking out from a helicopter door or window. That 3 or 4 foot long gun barrel is a major windbreak. The airstream on the barrels push the weapon just like your hand out the
car window when you were a kid. And, the faster the helicopter flies and the more barrel exposed to the airstream, the more torque on the weapon. Helicopter gunners must counter the airstream forces. They must overcome the force to sweep the gun onto the target and hold it there. They have to adapt to the change in force too as the helicopter slows or turns to block the airstream on the weapon. Gunners must engage the target, adapt to the airstream forces, and overcome the changes to keep on the target.
It’s engage, adapt, and overcome.
Realistic weapon training with the variable windloading forces is available for helicopter gunners using ACME’s replica weapon systems. ACME’s replica helicopter weapon systems can be equipped with Aerodynamic Torque Systems that replicate the windloading force on the barrels. The Aerodynamic Torque System is built right into the simulated aircraft weapon mount and hidden from the gunner’s view. The system uses flight model data from the simulator and weapon position to calculate the forces applied to the replica weapon. ACME bases the Aerodynamic Torque System force on data we have from in-flight helicopter tests. The force can be tuned to match Subject Matter Experts expectations too. ACME’s Aerodynamic Torque System is available for any replica helicopter weapon type on any aircraft mount. Ramp mounted guns don’t include windloading as the weapons are shielded from the airstream forces by the aircraft fuselage. ACME has a full range of helicopter mount designs available with windloading – no design costs for our Commercial-Off-The-Shelf mounts. Helicopter gunners can get realistic training with ACME’s realistic weapons, realistic recoil and realistic windloading. Call ACME for details.
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.
Pull the trigger on any firearm and you will immediately understand Newton’s law about equal and opposite reactions. Recoil is an inseparable part of shooting. It instantly affects how you engage the target. And the effects are amplified for machine guns. Each machine gun round changes the lay of fire. Recoil makes the barrel on a .50 caliber dance as the weapon fires. Add on the long effective range of the weapon and that barrel dance means rounds can fan wildly as they streak down range. Gunners must constantly adjust to the recoil and re-engage the target. Fact is, training with recoil is critical.
Most machine gun simulators don’t even have recoil. It’s simple: put sights on the target and shoot happily certain that you’ll stay on target all the time. But, it’s utterly unrealistic…just a simple video game. Some machine gun simulators provide ‘notional’ recoil. These guns may buzz a bit or lightly pop-pop-pop using compressed gas. And gas systems just don’t provide high rates of fire or realistic recoil. The idea is that notional recoil reinforces the cue when the gunner fires. But, notional recoil doesn’t really disrupt the weapon sight picture or drive the weapon off target when firing. Gunners might need to make only minimal adjustments for the recoil. These systems are also unrealistic, and worse, negative training for the gunners. Full-force machine gun recoil training is rarer. Realistic recoil is usually accomplished with blank rounds fired through the real weapon. This does produce realistic recoil effects. It also produces a dirty gun and requires stocks of ammunition as well as actual weapons. Using real weapons levies range and weapon safety demands, plus secure storage issues. Real weapons and blanks are not suited for indoor training and are very loud. But, what about a machine gun trainer that provides full force recoil at full rate of fire? One that can be used indoors and provides realistic recoil effects? A system that teaches gunners what to expect when the machine gun fires and the need to re-engage targets. A system that can be used for multiple weapons types and on aircraft, vehicle, or naval mounts?
ACME’S Gun Active Recoil Unit (GAR®) is a patented, electro-mechanical system that replicates the recoil intensity of the actual weapon when firing. It’s full-force recoil at full rate of fire for machine guns. The GAR® system does not require blanks or pneumatic charges – it simply plugs into an electrical outlet. GARs® don’t cycle the bolt inside the weapon for each recoil. It’s designed to work seamlessly with ACME’s ultra-high fidelity replica non-guns. ACME has recoil systems for M2, Mk19, M240, M60, GAU-18, XM218, GAU-21, and even the GAU-17 and M134 mini-guns. ACME has COTS GAR® mounts – no design needed – for a wide range of helicopters (doors, windows, and ramps) as well as vehicles and boats. GARs® can be set to provide exact azimuth and elevation so the field of fire is as-actual. The powerful GAR® system enables machine gunners to finally train realistically. It’s training with the right recoil and the right rate of fire using dependable electric power.
ACME Participating in Operation Blended Warrior 2016
The National Training & Simulation Association (NTSA) is serving as the sponsor for a Live-Virtual-Constructive (LVC) special event otherwise known as Operation Blended Warrior (OBW) that is being planned for the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation & Education Conference 2016 (I/ITSEC ’16), 28 Nov – 2 Dec, at the Orange County Convention Center (OCCC), Orlando, Florida. This marks the second year of a planned multi-year event. The first event was successfully demonstrated during I/ITSEC ’15 and included 31 industry and government participants, networked across twenty-two booths on the exhibit floor. In addition to working through connectivity and interoperability issues, I/ITSEC ’15 raised awareness regarding standards, after-action review, and cyber. At I/ITSEC ‘15, OBW was demonstrated using a Humanitarian Assistance scenario during five 90-minute blocks of time, with each block
consisting of three 30-minute vignettes, based on a fictitious country using Southern California as the operating area. For I/ITSEC ’16, these areas will continue to be emphasized as well as emphasizing multilevel security/cross-domain solutions (MLS/CDS) and performance measurements.
Additionally, I/ITSEC ’16 will be open to both US and coalition partners, and may include
remote/long-haul connectivity to the exhibit floor. Coalition participation will be limited to NATO/ANZUS countries and the number of international participants will be limited to 12 or less. Preference will be given to those that will be on the I/ITSEC exhibit floor. The over-arching objectives of OBW include documenting lessons-learned and facilitating identification of hindrances to achieving a true interoperable, plug-and-play environment associated with distributed training. This will allow for development of a strategy for overcoming these hindrances for future distributed training events. The event will consist of multiple exhibit floor vignettes showcasing government and industry distributed simulation capabilities.
ARLINGTON, Va.—Lookouts on the bridge of the USS Michael Murphy (DDG-112) scanned the surrounding ocean. All seemed well—clear skies, peaceful waters, busy merchant ship traffic.
Suddenly, a swarm of small fast-attack boats buzzed toward the destroyer. Within moments, a machine gunner shot withering streams of 50-caliber bullets at the approaching enemies, forcing their retreat.
This wasn’t a real attack on an American ship, but a tribute to the realism of the Fleet Integrated Simulation Technology Testing Facility (FIST2FAC)—which develops, tests and demonstrates simulator training technology blending live-action exercises with virtual assets and adversaries.
“This is the future of training for the Navy,” said Dr. Terry Allard, head of the Warfighter Performance Department at the Office of Naval Research (ONR). “With simulation, you can explore endless possibilities without the expense and logistical challenges of putting hundreds of ships at sea and aircraft in the sky.”
Recently, ONR—with support from members of its Reserve Component—demonstrated new and improved training technology at FIST2FAC, located on Ford Island, Hawaii. FIST2FAC combines a hassle-free setup, software and gaming technology to help naval forces develop strategies for diverse missions and operations. It allows Sailors to interact with artificially intelligent forces in countless virtual settings—and train for multiple missions simultaneously. The system can replicate situations involving aircraft carriers, helicopters (in this case, a squadron from Marine Corps Base Hawaii), lethal and nonlethal weapons, and more.“FIST2FAC was created in response to an urgent need for a more portable way for ships to train in any given operating area,” said Glenn White, ONR’s integration and transition manager for the project. “It allows Sailors to ‘train like they fight’ by presenting realistic forces in a visual, tactical and operational environment.”
During the demonstration on Ford Island, Sailors manning a virtual ship were pitted against several fast-attack craft in waters crowded with merchant traffic. They quickly determined the boats to be hostile and engaged them with machine-gun fire from both the ship and a virtual helicopter.
FIST2FAC, which was developed with support from the Naval Undersea Warfare Center Keyport Division, has demonstrated simulator technology since 2010. The latest event showcased improved capabilities and new enhancements to FIST2FAC training simulators:
— The bridge of the USS Michael Murphy, docked at nearby Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, was equipped with an array of computer screens and big-screen television monitors—allowing it to engage in virtual combat scenarios while maintaining contact with Ford Island.
— Sailors operating the ACME Worldwide Gun Active Recoil (GAR®) Simulated 50-caliber machine gun on the ship wore augmented-reality glasses, enabling them to see virtual enemy combatants within a live physical setting.
— Participants on Ford Island and the destroyer experienced degraded radar, video streaming and communications, mirroring the effects of an enemy jamming communication signals.
— A virtual adversary vocally hailed the participants, speaking in a foreign language as well as broken English.
White said the technology demonstrated at FIST2FAC is a valuable tool for the Navy for two main reasons—savings and security.
The software is reusable and can be modified for different environments. By comparison, it costs about $250,000 just to get an aircraft carrier out for live training—and approximately $6 million to fuel a strike group for a week. A live event lasting six to 10 hours may cost a million dollars.
The ability to recreate so many combat scenarios anywhere also is useful in training for any challenge a ship might face worldwide—from vessel maintenance to landing a fighter jet to navigating hostile waters.
Currently, FIST2FAC is shore based, but one day White wants to make the capabilities developed there available to ships at sea. “The ultimate goal is to wrap a destroyer in an augmented world where everyone throughout the ship can see virtual vessels, aircraft and adversaries and train to respond appropriately.”
Warren Duffie is a contractor for ONR Corporate Strategic Communications.
Office of Naval Research Turns 70
ONR celebrates 70 years of innovation in 2016. For seven decades, ONR through its commands—including ONR Global and the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C.—has been leading the discovery, development and delivery of technology innovations for the Navy and Marine Corps.
CH-147F Training Program Takes Flight
The RCAF CH-147F Aircrew Training Centre was declared ready for training last September. Group Editor Marty Kauchak journeyed to Garrison Petawawa, Ontario soon after and filed this report.
The Chinook “F” training system is significant from a service perspective – it is a foundation of the RCAF Simulation Strategy.
Canada’s Department of National Defense has completed its acquisition of 15 advanced, multi-mission Medium-to-Heavy Lift helicopters, designated CH-147F, the Canadian version of the Boeing F-model Chinook. The CA$5.0 billion acquisition and in-service support program for the CH-147F fleet helps position the Canadian Armed Forces as a first-class, modern, flexible force capable of defending Canada and the nation’s interests at home and overseas well into the future.
Canada took delivery of the 15th and final Chinook in July 2014.
The CH-147F program declared initial operating capability in February 2015 and remains on course to achieve final operational capability (FOC) in July 2017. The linchpin of the service’s ability to achieve FOC is the unheralded C-147F training system supporting 450 Tactical Helicopter Squadron (THS) at Garrison Petawawa, Ontario.
More important the CH-147F training strategy enables flight crews and technicians to provide operationally ready rotary aircraft, which Lieutenant-Colonel Chris McKenna, the 450 THS’ commanding officer, pointed out – and said Boeing would agree “are the most advanced Chinook helicopters currently flying.”
A collaborative effort between industry and the RCAF customer enables the operation and maintenance of the world-class Aircrew Training Centre (ATC) and Maintenance Training Centre that provide accession and follow-on training for the Chinook fleet’s personnel. The world-class descriptor is not used casually in this instance given the domestic and foreign missions the training system supports. LCol McKenna explained that his squadron can contribute CH-147Fs to his service’s aviation battalion, which may operate at home or deploy overseas. “One expectation is that we may need to sustain rotation after rotation, much like we did in Afghanistan for instance. So I must have a depth of field in terms of qualified and trained aircrews,” he said. The ATC was declared ready for training last September 24, three weeks before this author’s trip to the garrison. The Maintenance Training Centre opened some six months before that. Technician and aircrew training were in progress during this visit.
About 80 contractor personnel are on Boeing- and CAE-led teams at the squadron. Boeing, in its capacity as original equipment manufacturer, provided air- crew and technician initial cadre training, and remains responsible for the maintainers’ training program. For its part, CAE delivers ground-based and simulator based CH-147F aircrew training.
Maintenance Training Centre
The CH-147F maintenance training system combines learning technologies and hands-on training to support a capable rotary aircraft that comes with 30 specific Canadian modifications. Boeing technicians at Summit Aviation, a Greenwich AeroGroup company, in Middletown, Delaware, provided initial“F” model training in structure and engines, and avionics. Last February, two 3.5 month technician accession courses, one in aviation systems and the other in avionics, commenced at 450 THS in Boeing-furnished classrooms and a decommissioned MH- 47E chassis, re-roled into a maintenance training station (MTS), also delivered by Boeing. The portions of the technicians’ syllabus completed in high-tech classrooms use a mix of technologies including an integrated display screen, essentially a 60-in. touchscreen that fully simulates the Chinook down to literally every screw, nut and wire.
Other maintenance learning is supported on what the 450 THS calls its “16th airplane” – the MH-47E chassis. The chassis is used as an MTS to provide hands-on instruction. The squadron CO added “You can practice the removal of engines, blades, transmissions and other components and do all of the other tasks Chinook technicians do as part of the RCAF Chinook maintenance program.”
General Dynamics and L3 Link are on subcontract to Boeing to maintain the MTS’ tools and parts, and provide other MTS system and materiel support. One maintenance training return on investment (ROI) can be gleaned from this training device supporting instruction for the two courses up to eight hours a day with the potential to surge to 16 hours if needed. Concurrency is always an important attribute of any aviation platform training program. For the CH-147F fleet, Boeing’s Integrated Technical Publication and its supporting technician courseware must be updated within 90 days of an aircraft change.
Aircrew Training Centre
CH-147F accession pilots arrive at ATC with a wide array of operational experience. On the high end, that may be more than 2,000 hours in RCAF legacy rotary aircraft, with many of those hours accumulated on missions in Afghanistan. Conversely, other students may be newly minted pilots who graduated from RCAF Phase III flight training with about 230 flight hours. Aspiring Chinook flight officers initially complete a four week ground school, which is very focused on systems and the aircraft mission system in particular. The prospective pilot then completes 4.5 months of flying lessons consisting of 50 sorties divided up between 30 in the simulator and 20 live fly.
“We have a rigorous 24 month process with which we can advance and progress a young co-pilot who graduates from the CAE-delivered course, to get upgraded to aircraft captain,” McKenna said. The CH-147F aviator will have about 600 flight hours at that career benchmark.
Sixty percent of the aircrews’ current syllabus is completed through simulation and other learning technologies; the remaining 40% by live fly missions. Of note, the RCAF designed the CH-147F aircrew training program to be supported up though 95% by learning technology. While the existing instructional mix is self-imposed by the 1 Wing’s leadership, the 450’s commander noted, “We do have all of the device-based lessons. If we wanted to cycle the program further into simulation we can turn up that rheostat to a much higher level of sim, but we need to do a few things first – delivering a couple of courses to make us comfortable with what we are teaching in the sim and on the flight line”. The 450 THS is also about to embark on an effort to gather and deliver flight data for CAE’s use in helping to further increase the amount of training delivered in its four devices.
RCAF has purchased courseware from CAE for first officer, loadmaster and flight engineer training. A gunnery course to begin this spring will prepare loadmaster, flight engineers and even Army personnel augmented for the air- craft protection mission. On the CH-147F community’s horizon, an aircraft captain upgrade course will ensure the individual truly understands the systems in the aircraft. The squadron commander noted, “It is very sim focused. It is also unique in tactical aviation as we have never had a formal aircraft captaincy course. Finally this will be a professional delivery at the right time to ensure the young aviators are at the right level of knowledge and experience before we upgrade them. Normally you wouldn’t find that out until they potentially failed the check ride. Now we will know – now we will absolutely know that when they come out of that captaincy course and when we put them on a check ride that they will succeed.” And finally, a maintenance test pilot course is scheduled for delivery to the RCAF this spring.
CAE has delivered four training devices as part of its 20-year service support contract for this program. The weapon systems trainer (WST) is a full-motion, full-mission simulator with a six-degree-of-freedom (DOF) motion system, 3-DOF vibration platform, 200 x 60 degree field-of-view (FOV) visual display system, and the Medallion-6000 image generator with Common Database architecture.
McKenna pointed out the Common Database architecture is common to all four ATC training devices, and the training systems supporting the RCAF’s CC-130 Hercules fleet and other aircraft. He added, “Once we are able to enterprise these sims together we will be in the same environment.”
Moog supplied the WST actuators to CAE. A tactical flight training device (TFTD) is identical to the WST with the exception of its fixed-base. LCol McKenna noted that while he loves motion in a training system “the graphics in this device are so amazing that I personally really don’t notice the lack of motion.” The ATC infrastructure housing the TFTD can sup- port the upgrade of the device to a full motion configuration. This enhancement is not currently programmed.
Rockwell Collins UK furnished the mylar domes in the WST and TFTD. The RCAF is taking a page from the playbook of the training systems for the US CV-22 Osprey and other aircraft fleets by field- ing a Deployable TFTD (DTFTD) for the CH-147F fleet. The service invested in the device to sustain the skills of pilots while deployed as well as to support mission rehearsal events. Of note, the device is fitted with a classroom behind the training device to support mission rehearsal activities.
The DTFTD can be transported in one aircraft and can then be setup and operational in 48-72 hours. A 450 THS-initiated, internal proof of concept for the device was scheduled for late 2015 at Wainwright Garrison, Alberta.
A fourth device, an integrated gunnery trainer (IGT), will provide training for door gunners, loadmasters and flight engineers. The 180 x 95 degree FOV system supplements the ability to network the device with the WST and TFDT.
McKenna cited the IGT’s initial ROIs, noting the challenges in obtaining range time for CH-147F live fire events and the cost savings from not using live ammunition. “This is a massive enabler from my point of view. And we don’t think this is only a Chinook device,” leaving open the possibility other type rotary aircraft crews can train in it.
ACME Worldwide provided the IGT’s reconfigurable fuselage and enclosure, lighting, replica weapons, and mounts to CAE. Porta-King delivered the IGT shelter. CAE has provided other technologies to the 450 THS end user. Of particular note, a tactical control center ingrates all four training devices. Additionally, CAE has provided a NVG Simulation/Trainer, four virtual simulation-based classrooms and other products. Night Readiness is a supplier to CAE for the NVG Simulation Trainer.
The squadron CO summarized how the ATC’s training infrastructure has expanded his community’s training readiness envelope. In one mission scenario, three separate 450 THS crews in three separate training devices can conduct a day/night, three-ship air assault using NVGs. “They are linked in the same environment. They can ‘see’ each other in that same environment. And they can use the IGT sim and plug it into the back end of one of the other three devices and the gunner is now part of that crew. This is a level of mission rehearsal simulation capability I have never seen in my career.”
The squadron commander later reflected on the reality of CH-147F operations – with Chinooks often flying at formation, pilots on NVGs, usually at 140 kts at 50 ft (15 m) above tree canopies, and opened the door for further community discussion on the mix of sims and live flights in the training pipeline. “This is very tactile work. We’re not an airline. And how much simulation you can use to get a guy to that point is up for debate on the world stage right now.” While McKenna asserted that he had never seen simulation “this good” he cautioned, “We can do more but need to get the data sets and decide what more we can do and grow it methodically based on that data.”
Publisher October 13, 2015 – By Henry Canaday, MT2 Correspondent
Like the platforms on which they ride, helicopter guns have a wide range of missions, playing decisive roles in situations from insertions to extractions and close-in support of deployed units. Training helicopter gunners is thus both vital to effective airborne operations and challenging in its variety and scope.
Similarly, training systems for rotorcraft weaponry also vary across several dimensions. Some systems train only gunners, while others train whole rotorcraft crews. Some specialize in specific models and weapons, while others stretch across many platforms. Some devices replicate the full sight, sound and feel of chopper operations, while others focus on the critical visual images.
AVT Simulation, for example, offers rotary wing collective training and training for front-seat co-pilot/gunners on the AH-64 Apache. “We make everything from lower- to high-end fidelity systems,” said Kevin Vizzarri, vice president of business development.
AVT’s Apache Gaming Peripheral replicates the front seat of the AH-64 using Virtual Battle Space gaming. It is USB-driven, with real grips, switches and triggers. The Recurring Skills Trainer-Gunner, meanwhile, trains students on such front-seat procedures as using fire-control radar, threat file-sharing, remote Hellfire engagement and laser designation. It lets them fly with an unmanned aerial vehicle wingman in manned/unmanned teaming mode with a remote control station.
At the top of AVT’s suite is the Combined Aircrew Mission Task Trainer (CAMTT), which trains multiple operators of AH-64s and UH-60 Blackhawks on a virtual battlefield. AVT is now integrating CH-47 Chinooks into CAMTT. This trainer is especially good at training mission leaders and mission rehearsal, according to company executives.
“All our training solutions are part of the same CAMTT family—scalable, interoperable and tailorable,” Vizzarri stressed. “And they train in collective operations.”
Although CAMTT handles other helicopters, training Apache gunners is AVT’s specialty. As a development contractor for the Army’s Aviation Combined Arms Tactical Trainer, AVT knows most current aircraft in the inventory.
Some organizations want full-motion simulators, with hydraulics and panoramic views, but these can be extremely expensive. AVT makes more affordable simulators that use realistic interfaces and a screen that focuses on the view in front of the gunner, all in a small footprint.
AVT is now getting more into the gaming approach to training, looking at laser and other technologies and developing the ability to change terrain without shutting down training devices, all while staying affordable and within small footprints. The company is rolling out an Apache gunnery trainer that combines realistic gaming with training in specific skills.
There are also non-simulation approaches to training, however, such as the one pursued by Inter-Coastal Electronics (ICE), which makes training, telemetry and test instrumentation that collects, processes, transmits and records data from live-fire training. “Our focus is live training, with modest exposure to virtual programs,” explained Gregory Kraak, vice president of business development.
ICE makes the Aviation Tactical Engagement Simulation System (TESS), which enables aircrews to practice live-weapon engagements and combined-arms training without firing a round. Aviation TESS is used by all three Army Combat Training Centers and many home stations.
Aviation TESS provides integrated, instrumented training for force-on-force and force-on-target collective training events. It integrates trainees into a network infrastructure via telemetry antennas that transmit live feeds across many players and sites, and automatically adjudicates results of live, virtual and constructive fire. Combining TESS with onboard aircraft gun video and ICE’s advanced software yields real-time monitoring of training events and
ICE has extensive experience instrumenting different aircraft, including AH-64, UH-60, CH-47, OH-58D Kiowa and UH-72 Lakota. It is a provider of air-to-ground instrumentation and live-training for aviation crews. The company’s Modular Smart Onboard Data Interface Module (MSMODIM) interfaces with air and ground vehicles and is the primary component of TESS.
MSMODIM interfaces electronically with aircraft weapons to simulate weapons engagements, monitor performance and locate positions. It tracks, records and transmits data for real-time observation and after-action reviews. It computes solutions for Hellfire missiles, semi-active lasers, 30 mm guns and rockets. Targets are selected from an onboard database, and each weapon’s impact footprint and effects are judged probabilistically. ICE is now developing an advanced SMODIM compatible with MSMODIM but significantly enhanced.
The Army is now adding offensive capabilities to opposing-force UH-72s at its Combat Training Centers. UH-60 and CH-47 crews are asking for offensive capabilities, specifically door gunners, so ICE is self-funding prototype development for this capability. It is focused on instrumenting M240H machine guns, which are standard-issue for UH and CH door gunners.
ICE intends to expand its solution to other platforms, weapons and capabilities. “Our solution will include a gun-mounted camera that measures weapon effectiveness and records effects of rounds on ground-based targets,” Kraak noted. “A mechanical design has been developed and initial testing on the M240H has been performed.”
Visual, Aural and Tactile
CAE offers comprehensive door-gunner training with visual, aural and tactile cues, explained Global Business Development Director Phil Perey. Its reconfigurable gunnery trainer provides both window- and ramp-gunner positions with a single display system. For integrated crew training, CAE also offers gunner training as part of its rear-crew trainer.
“Both solutions provide direct, transferable training for gunner/scanner crew positions,” Perey said. “Integrated gunnery trainers provide real-time, designated normal aircraft scanning and gunnery procedures.”
CAE services include analysis of training needs and media analysis, designing visual databases and integration of gunnery trainers with other training devices.
The company’s trainers can simulate the operational environment of any helicopter and be configured for any gunning position or cabin environment, Perey said, adding that the company recently delivered a CH-47 gunnery trainer to the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF).
CAE’s gunnery trainers are designed with pilots, co-pilots, gunners and other rear crew in mind. They can be networked with other state-of-the-art simulation devices to enhance mission training. For example, the CH-47 gunnery trainer is routinely networked to a full-mission simulator, a fixed-base training device and a deployable tactical flight trainer.
CAE gunnery trainers work with night-vision displays, night-vision goggles and multi-ship operations. They include a range of simulated weapons to help train for weapon malfunctions and simulate drag effects of weapons protruding into slip streams. CAE is considering incorporating vibration and motion cues and wind simulation in its
Acme Worldwide Enterprises was part of CAE’s CH-147 Integrated Gunnery Trainer (IGT) team for the RCAF. Acme provided the reconfigurable fuselage and enclosure, lighting, replica weapons and mounts. The IGT includes the company’s high-fidelity replica machine guns and all-electric recoil system, which feel and function like actual guns with full recoil.
Rear Cabin Training
Havelsan’s Rear Cabin Trainer (RCT) combines modular hardware, virtual reality and simulation software in a cost-effective training system, according to Program Manager Hakan Karapinar. The RCT has a mock-up of the rear cabin of the AgustaWestland AW139, operated by about 18 militaries, and NHIndustries NH90, flown by many European forces. It can be reconfigured for different training tasks such as apertures, weapon mounts and communications, and can be moved as needed.
For training rear crew, the RCT has two visual systems: a head-mounted display for up to two rear-crew stations, and a 180-by-40 degree out-the-window field-of-view dome for training in crew-served weapons.
The RCT offers a range of door gunnery options, and Havelsan can simulate different weapons with a high degree of fidelity. Training can be done in virtual-reality-only mode or with the aid of 80-degree dome projection. Both systems use customized software for tracers, ground effects and gun models.
For crew-served weapons training, the RCT has a dummy weapon with compressor-powered recoil or simulated recoil. The shoot-on-screen projection dome offers better peripheral vision and unobstructed operation of the simulated crew-served weapon. RCT’s realistic weather effects include wind, rain, dust, brownout and fog. It simulates night-vision and thermal images and many terrain types.
Havelsan also offers a long-range missile system simulator, LORAMISS, for training pilots in firing air-to-surface missiles from helicopters to surface targets like tanks and buildings. LORAMISS simulates the complete missile system with a partial helicopter simulator.
The partial helicopter simulator has simulated aviation instruments such as pedals and multi-functional display (MFD) screens that display pitch, roll, bearing, speed, altitude and remaining fuel. LORAMISS’s missile controls simulate selecting missiles, searching targets, locking to targets, breaking locks and firing. It uses an out-the-window view with the help of image generators that also generate an infrared seeker view of the missile on an MFD screen.
Havelsan is currently acquiring a company called Quantum3D, which will initially offer the parent firm’s products, including LORAMISS, RCT and Armament System Simulation, according to Scott MacDougall, a company spokesman. Over time, the combined firms will offer many new training products.
LORAMISS includes an instructor/operator station (IOS) console, MacDougall noted. “Using IOS, the trainer can design the scenario and let the pilot play it. Targets and own-ship can be placed anywhere on the simulation area.”
Stand-Alone or Networked
Kratos Training Systems offers a range of gunner-training tools to achieve the right fidelity for each training phase, said Senior Vice President Jose Diaz. It makes systems for many rotorcraft, reconfigurable for helmet-mounted displays, as well as projection-based and motion-based training. Solutions can be stand-alone gunner training or networked full-crew systems.
Kratos systems train gunners by simulating multiple weapons and their ammunition, and train in communication and crew coordination through all flight phases. Kratos makes fully integrated systems for the H-60, H-53 Stallion, H-47 and UH-1 Iroquois that train in gunnery using either projections or helmet-mounted displays.
In 2014, Kratos was on a team chosen to deliver four MH-60R Seahawk Naval Aircrew Training Systems and four MH-60S Aircrew Virtual Environment Trainer devices for the Naval Air Systems Command. The devices train MH-60 crew in several tasks, including gunnery.
Kratos is now adding augmented reality to gunnery training, Diaz explained, so that “artificial information about the environment and objects in it can be overlaid onto the real world.” It has integrated augmented reality into helmet mounted displays, allowing trainees to immerse themselves in higher-fidelity environments and perform tasks not feasible or realistic in virtual reality.
Kratos will expand helmet-mounted displays from single to multiple positions and operate them in networked distributed mission operations environments. It is looking at virtual databases and image generators in commercial markets, and is enhancing realism with odor simulation, climate-changing environments and vibrations.
Pathfinder Systems Inc. (PSI) offers high-fidelity trainers for initial and continued-proficiency training for rotorcraft crew chiefs, gunners and loadmasters. PSI trainers support multiple aircraft, so crew can train for different platforms in one simulator. Engine sounds, aerodynamic noise and weapon fire are used for realistic training.
The Army contracted with PSI to build a Non-rated Crew Member Trainer (NCMT) for UH-60 and CH-47 crews. The NCMT has two trainers in a 53-foot expandable tractor-trailer and does gunnery training, among other tasks. PSI has delivered crew trainers and simulation to the Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Marines and several European nations.
PSI’s Coast Guard Aircrew Weapons Trainer is a motion-based simulator training for various weapons on either MH-60Cs or MH-60Js. Its Marine Common Aircrew Trainer-Prototype 2 is used by Marines to train CH-53E, MV-22B Osprey and UH-1Y gunners and other crew.
PSI is now making it easier to convert trainers among aircraft and improving weapon simulations, noted Sheila Jaszlics, the company’s president.
Thales pioneered military-helicopter training, and its product portfolio ranges from task trainers to full-mission simulators, said Joël Flinois, helicopter simulation line manager, adding, “More than 110 helicopter simulators have been delivered to customers in 25 countries.”
Thales offers three main helicopter trainers. Its Full-Mission Simulator (FMS) trains gunners in technical and tactical skills and mission preparation. FMS provides the highest level of fidelity in weapon and sensor simulation. Sagittarius Evolution offers simulation-based training for door gunners in gunnery skills and communication. Tracers, ballistics and down wash are included in simulations. Finally, the Helicopter Mission Trainer is a multi-platform tactical training system that trains gunners and other crew very cost-effectively in tactical skills.
Thales also helps operate French, German and Australian schools for Tiger attack helicopters, a U.K. school for the Westland Lynx and a German school for the NH90. Thales trainers support all type of combat helicopters, including Chinooks. Sagittarius equipment supports CH-53s, CH-47s and other rotorcraft. Tiger FMSs replicate many different rockets and missiles, including Hellfires and laser-guided missiles, and are used in a virtual environment managed by Thales Computer’s Generated Forces system.
Sagittarius trainers account for the effects of moving platforms on ballistics and can be combined with other simulators to jointly train dismounted soldiers and helicopter gunners, Flinois said. FMS trainers simulate all motion, vibration and visual cues with a large field of view (240 by 90 degrees). Thales can generate visual databases for any country needed and simulate tactical environments with hundreds of actors.
Flinois predicted that the future will see more networked simulators to train gunners collectively in realistic environments, as well as better integration of human factors in simulators. Augmented reality for live training will also become more important.
D-BOX makes a motion system for simulators that gives helicopter gunners the feel of their aircraft. “Kinesthetic cues enable helicopter gunners to know how aircraft are behaving and understand their state,” explained Senior Marketing Director Sébastien Lozé.
Relying on physical sensations in training is essential, Lozé noted, especially in patrolling at low altitudes and complex tactical situations. Trainees develop reflexes to communicate when visual and audio communications are degraded by loud noise, explosions, night or rotor wash. Gunners rely on balance and their feel for helicopter movements.
D-BOX motion system has been integrated by Thales, BlueDrop and other partners for helicopter gunner training. “There is no limit to the type of helicopter we can support,” Lozé stressed. “If your software can generate movements and vibrations accurately, we can bring them to the real world and make gunners feel them. Trainees anticipate movements of aircraft and keep their aim efficiently.”
D-BOX systems are easily deployed and have small footprints. Thales used D-BOX equipment to bring a new level of realism to airborne gunner training. “The benefit of D-BOX is that all you need is a very simple mount with a gun on it and you’ll be up and running. That can’t be done with a classic hexapod platform because it lacks the deployability that D-BOX offers,” observed Marco Zender, Thales product manager.
“We bring finesse to motion systems that is very hard to obtain otherwise,” Lozé said.
D-BOX’s integration with Presagis’s HeliSIM delivers realism not found in other COTS motion simulators, said Stephane Roy, president of Roy Aircraft & Avionic Simulation.
“D-BOX vibrations bring the mechanical feel of the helicopter. When we flew the Blackhawk and the Chinook in this simulator, we could even tell which type of aircraft we were piloting based on the subtlety of motion and vibration cueing. D-BOX is the only small simulation motion solution that can provide the accuracy and frequency to mimic the movement of a helicopter up to 100 Hz of vibration,” Roy said.
The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) recently accepted a suite of CH-147 Chinook simulators and training devices from CAE and their team of support companies. The suite of trainers is now ready-for-use at Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Petawawa.
ACME Worldwide Enterprises, Inc. (ACME) is a proud to be part of the CAE team for the Integrated Gunnery Trainer (IGT). CAE, a worldwide leader in simulation and training, led CH-147 IGT trainer team. CAE provided the trainer’s visual, audio, ballistics, and computer systems, and the system integration.
ACME provided the reconfigurable fuselage and enclosure, lighting, replica weapons, and mounts. The trainer can emulate either window or rear ramp gunner positions.
The trainer includes ACME’s high-fidelity, replica machine guns and patented all-electric recoil system. The replicas look, feel and function like actual guns and provide full rate of fire and full recoil force for training. The gunnery system can mimic the airstream loads on the weapon barrels protruding from the helicopter.
The gunnery elements mate to CAE’s ballistics models and visual display systems. The result is exceptional gunnery training for Canadian forces in the newest CH-147 helicopters.
Congratulations to the RCAF on their new suite of CH-147 trainers and our thanks to CAE for choosing ACME for the team.
ACME Worldwide Enterprises Inc. produces replica weapon training systems for military training worldwide including infantry, vehicles, aviation, seaborne, and Special Forces applications. ACME weapon training systems feature high fidelity replica weapons and patented, all-electric Gun Active Recoil systems that feature full rate of fire and recoil.
The Marine Common Aircrew Trainer (MCAT) program is coming—the draft RFP is out and teams are beginning to form. ACME Worldwide Enterprises, Inc. could be a good partner for your MCAT program.
ACME has extensive experience with MCAT and highly realistic replica weapons including patented, all-electric recoil system that meet or exceed the program requirements. ACME designed and built the replica gun systems for the initial MCAT trainers procured by the U.S. Government under the SBIR program. We can help your team with proven MCAT products, program experience, and lessons-learned.
In this package we have included details about our products and how they can help you answer the requirements for the MCAT program. A quick look through the package will show you exactly how we can help. You can learn more details and get a PDF Brochure here.
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