New RAF simulation tech allows multiple pilots to interact

The MOD has announced £36m for a new RAF simulation capability called Gladiator that will allow up to three pilots or crews to experience the same virtual environment.

Gladiator will allow F-35 pilots on both sides of the Atlantic to train together

Implemented by Boeing Defence UK, the system will allow US and UK aircrews to train together in scenarios that would be extremely difficult to replicate in real life, creating a virtual transatlantic bridge between the two airforces. It is expected that pilots will be using the simulation capability by autumn 2021.   

“The award of this contract heralds a 21st-century capability that will transform the ability of the RAF to undertake collective operations, tactics and procedures training in the synthetic environment that cannot be performed in the live environment,” said Russ Cole, Flight Simulator and Synthetic Training Portfolio team leader.

Gladiator will initially allow Typhoon pilots to fly virtual missions alongside their US counterparts, as well as interact with UK and US Joint Terminal Attack Controllers who direct combat aircraft from ground-based positions. F-35 Lightning jets are expected to be added to the package by September 2021. According to the MOD, the RAF will also look to include Wedgetail early warning radar aircraft in the future, as well as upgrading the system to enable Royal Navy and Army aircraft to participate in the collective training exercises.

Design and manufacture of the software will take place in Fleet in Hampshire and Bristol, and the equipment will be installed at RAF Waddington. It’s claimed that the initial five-year deal with Boeing will support up to 40 high-skilled jobs in the UK.

“This contract award signals the go-ahead for the core element of the Royal Air Force’s future synthetic training capability,” said Air Commodore David Bradshaw, senior responsible owner for the programme.

“This new capability…will provide a step-change in the ability of our front-line forces to train together in operationally realistic situations to meet an ever-increasing adversary threat.”