Frontline simulation

RAF pilots will train alongside British Army forward air controllers and artillery personnel prior to frontline deployment, through a new Ministry of Defence contract.



The £26m Distributed Synthetic Air-Land Training (DSALT) contract, awarded to Qinetiq and Boeing, will cover the provision and running of a bespoke multi-million pound training facility at RAF Waddington over the next four years.



Qinetiq, the project lead, and Boeing will together provide around 44 weeks’ access to specialist synthetic training facilities each year.


The primary users will be HQ-level fire planning cells and fire support teams who will be on the front line for artillery batteries.


The other users will include RAF pilots who will operate alongside the frontline teams in the region.



The MoD hopes that by working together they will safely experience the complexities of controlling aircraft, artillery and other assets in fast-moving situations.



‘With recent technological advancements, we are now able to deliver synthetic training that realistically simulates actual engagement situations, and until now troops probably only experienced many of these when they reached the front line,’ explained Jon Saltmarsh, Qinetiq’s programme director for the project.


‘This helps ensure our forces are better-trained, minimising the risks both to them and civilians in complex urban environments like Iraq and Afghanistan.



‘A real benefit of this form of training is that ground forces gain an understanding of the pilot’s perspective of a mission and vice versa,’ he added.


‘This means that communications between all parties are improved, operations run more smoothly and there’s less chance of error.’



Qinetiq is responsible for ensuring the facility meets technical specification and providing continuous technical support.


Boeing will be responsible for the day-to-day operation of the training systems.


The RAF, supported by Inzpire, aviation consultants to the UK military, will provide personnel with recent in-theatre experience and take on various roles within the exercises.


The DSALT facility is part of the Air Battlespace Training Centre, an RAF-industry partnership designed to improve the training of UK frontline forces.