JTAC Simulation Training with MetaVR Visuals at Nellis Air Force Base
The US Air Force's primary joint terminal attack controller (JTAC) Virtual Training Facility at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, uses MetaVR visuals in multiple training dome and desktop configurations for joint fires simulation training. At the facility, often referred to as the "Nellis JTAC schoolhouse," the 6th Combat Training Squadron (CTS) provides the JTAC Qualification Course (JTACQC) and JTAC Instructor Course (JTACIC) to US Air Force JTAC and JTAC instructor trainees. The JTACQC helps each student develop concepts, doctrine, procedures, and techniques for using combat firepower during joint operations. As the main USAF JTAC training facility, the schoolhouse offers the largest number of co-located and networked USAF JTAC simulators.
For the partial dome simulators, the Headquarters Air Force purchased two Advanced Joint Terminal Attack Controller Training Systems (AJTS) for the facility, which were installed in 2014. The AJTS is a high-fidelity, immersive simulator and is the combined effort of QuantaDyn, USAF Trainer Development Division, Battlespace Simulations (BSI), Immersive Display Solutions (IDSI), and MetaVR. This 5-meter, 270 degree FOV training dome system, which uses 17 MetaVR 3D visual channels, is similar in appearance to a miniature IMAX theater and fully immerses the JTAC trainee in a 3D real-time virtual battlefield. The system is comprised of, in part, commercial off-the-shelf components: Immersive Display Solutions' immersive domed visual display system; BSI's Modern Air Combat Environment (MACE) computer generated force and semi-automated force application with call-for-fire, 5-line and 9-line interfaces; a simulated rangefinder/designator, and MetaVR's Virtual Reality Scene Generator (VRSG), geospecific 3D terrain, and model libraries.
The AJTS is designed to support all JTAC and combat controller squadron level continuation, qualification, and mission rehearsal training. The AJTS encompasses high-fidelity visual displays, geospecific visual databases, equipment emulators, and associated hardware and software. The training system is designed to meet the requirements for unit training at Air Support Operations Squadrons (ASOS) and Special Tactics Squadrons (STS) and is accredited by the US Joint Fire Support Executive Steering Committee (JFS ESC) and the NATO Standardization Agreement (STANAG); the system meets or exceeds current STANAG standards.
Like the AJTS, the accredited desktop system, called the JTAC-TACP/Operational Simulation Suite (J-T/OSS) v2.0 Desktop system, uses BSI MACE and MetaVR VRSG and enables students to train on a virtual battlefield with Joint Fires interfaces, such as 9-Line, 5-Line, and call for fire (CFF). The JTAC trainee also has VRSG channels available in the form of a simulated monocular/binocular used for laser range finding and target designation, as well as a full-motion video ROVER-type feed for external targeting information. The J-T/OSS system has a variety of DIS tools, including BSI's Viper DIS radio, BSI's DIScord for mission recording and playback/after-action review (AAR).
The instructor can control all constructive entities (including attacking aircraft and artillery), as well as ground entities and threats. Features that support such missions include physics-based weapons performance, laser target designation, full-motion infrared video feeds, dynamic scenario inputs, human-level behaviors, path finding, blast effect calculations, complex weather system control, and a robust weapons and entity library. The system is capable of importing existing military topographic database information to enable operators and instructors to quickly develop scenarios appropriate for mission rehearsal. The J-T/OSS Desktop systems are the schoolhouse's "workhorse" trainers; all 5 systems, which run on a small network, have logged over 15,000 training hours since March 2013.
The JTAC Virtual Training Facility at Nellis AFB opened in October 2010, with 6 Meggitt Indirect Fire Forward Air Control Trainer (I-FACT) systems. Those systems have since been replaced; all the JTAC simulators at the facility are now running MetaVR and BSI's software. A total of 37 VRSG licenses are in use across all the simulators.
The two AJTS dome systems are heavily scheduled for day and night training, and have logged over 3,000 training hours since mid-2014. Due to the advanced capabilities in the day/dusk/night/dawn visual spectrums, these dome systems are often used for training in night-vision view. Trainees in full-kit body armor participate in exercises using a PVS-14 night vision monocular. At present, training is conducted on the dome systems on a standalone basis; plans are underway to network the systems for future participation in distributed mission operations (DMO) exercises.
Both courses are comprised of 1/3 simulation training, 1/3 field training exercise (FTX), and 1/3 academics. The simulation portion requires students to complete 7 scenarios within a two-week timeframe on both the dome and desktop simulators. During this time, students map out the planning and execution of specific missions that make up the scenarios. The scenarios in the dome systems are often more complex than what students face in their subsequent field training. Once students complete the JTACQC, they return to their units for evaluation.
Photo of the JTAC Virtual Training Facility at Nellis Air Force Base on the left. On the right is a real-time VRSG rendering of MetaVR's model of the facility on the Nellis Air Force Base area of MetaVR's virtual CONUS++ 3D terrain.
Soldiers from other organizations also train on the JTAC simulators. Special Operations personnel spend 2 weeks twice a year training on the range at Nellis and completing close air support (CAS) exercises on both the dome and desktop JTAC simulators. In addition, National Guard soldiers who visit Nellis to train on the range participate in currency training on the simulators.
Real-time MetaVR VRSG rendering of the high-resolution Nellis Air Force Base area of MetaVR's virtual CONUS++ 3D terrain. The geospecific airfield culture models are available in MetaVR's 3D content libraries.