The Ministry of Defence is using a new system to run its separate battlefield, vehicle and command simulations together.
The Common Simulation Framework (CSF), developed by Bath-based firm SEA, allows information and commands to be exchanged between different programs and for new equipment and systems to be added to established simulations.
This will allow kit developed for combat in Afghanistan to be used in training programmes created in the 1990s — meaning troops won’t be using it for the first time in theatre.
‘What you have is disparate simulated systems operating in unreal environments,’ said Steve Hill, managing director of SEA (part of the Cohort group).
‘What this is trying to do is to create an environment where you can train collaboratively and use more real integrated elements, more real environments.’
The MoD has training facilities at several UK sites, as well as in Germany, Canada and Kenya. The CSF will allow the army to run simulations of different aspects of warfare in separate locations, connected as part of one large training programme.
For example, a command exercise could practice operating UAVs that are illegal to fly in the UK to monitor a battlefield, receiving information from a simultaneous vehicle simulation, which could include heat signatures from weapons fire.
The system, which cost less than £2m to develop, provides an alternative to replacing software programs that cost tens to hundreds of millions of pounds.
The army has already integrated the CSF into several command and vehicle training facilities in the UK and Germany, and is installing it at the battlefield simulator at Westdown Camp on Salisbury Plain.
‘It’s highly robust, reliable kit,’ said project manager Andy Whitfield. ‘We need to be able to say we’re not going to bring the system down, we’re not going to pose a risk to the exercise.’
SEA said it has had interest from the Royal Navy and is talking to other countries’ forces about the CSF, but it could also be used in non-defence applications.
‘This is a common information framework, a high-fidelity, high-reliability data-management tool that happens to be used in the training environment but has a wide application outside,’ said Whitfield.