Bell Flight, a division of Textron, uses MetaVR VRSG in multiple commercial and military engineering/development simulation programs. The recent sale of 12 MetaVR visual systems was the latest of MetaVR systems to be installed at Bell’s engineering lab in Ft.Worth, TX, where simulation is used during flight control development. The lab includes a large dome venue where different airframe simulations are conducted; cockpits/chassis can be wheeled in.
Following the sale, Bell renewed software maintenance for 11 VRSG licenses used in two other simulators at their engineering lab and systems integration lab. Among the Bell airframe simulations VRSG is used for are the AH-1Z Viper, V-22 Osprey, and the V-247 Vigilant.
One of Bell's early uses of VRSG was nearly a decade ago in its OH-58 Kiowa Warrior simulation facility located in the Manned Unmanned Operations Capability Development Laboratory (MUMO CDL) in Huntsville, AL. The laboratory was adjacent to, and operationally connected to, AAI Corporation's (a subsidiary of Textron Systems) Shadow Tactical UAS hardware-in-the-loop system integration lab.
The OH-58 Kiowa Warrior simulator at the Bell Helicopter Manned-Unmanned Operations Capability Development Lab in Huntsville, AL. (Photo courtesy of Al.com).
The lab provided a high-fidelity interoperable MUMO or manned-unmanned teaming (MUM-T) simulation environment to support individual operator requirements for UAS and helicopter mission crew requirements, and extend the future capability of the Kiowa Warrior. The lab’s purpose was to support the US Army objectives for MUM-T UAS operations by advancing the manned-unmanned capability from inside the helicopter cockpit.
The actual Kiowa Warrior helicopter supported LOI 2 with UAS platforms control; it could receive UAS payload data and act as a radio relay. Advancing its capabilities to LOI 3 (control the UAS camera and sensors), and eventually to LOI 4 (control the UAS’s flight path and weapon systems) would have increased the efficiency and situational awareness of teamed missions and aid the UAS operator).
The Kiowa Warrior simulator used 5 VRSG channels to provide a 245° x 63° FOV out-the-window display. Two additional VRSG channels were used for onboard sensors or alternatively, 1 channel for an onboard sensor and 1 channel for a chase plane (third-person) view. The VRSG simulated UAS payload video was streamed with KLV metadata from AAI’s co-located lab to the helicopter cockpit to simulate Level of Interoperability (LOI) 2, which enabled the pilot see the camera payload from the UAV in the helicopter cockpit.