Feeds

RAF builds massively multiplayer flight sims

World's greatest LAN party is go

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

A UK defence initiative hopes to link up military flight simulators in the US and UK , allowing British pilots to train for complex multi-aircraft missions together with their American counterparts across the pond.

Front line aircrew are now involved in the experimental phase of the £7.8m Mission Training through Distributed Simulation (MTDS) demonstrator programme at RAF Waddington. MTDS is being delivered by Qinetiq, the sold-off MoD defence operation, in partnership with Boeing.

"Initial trials with front line RAF and US aircrew have gone extremely well," according to MDTS chief Kevin Williams in a Qinetiq release last week.

The RAF agrees, sort of. "We are still working within the realms of what we consider acceptable," Wing Commander Mike Dobson, synthetic training staff officer* at RAF Strike Command, told New Scientist yesterday.

The MTDS facility includes eight Tornado and Typhoon fighter-bomber cockpits and a seven-seat AWACS radar-plane mockup. The system has been integrated with the UK's Apache attack-helicopter simulators, famous for taking so long to arrive that the British Apache fleet had to be mothballed for two years after being delivered.

The British virtual-battlespace facilities can be connected to similar sites in the USA where American F-16, Apache, and AWACS jockeys train. Additional synthetic aircraft and ground vehicles can be injected into the simulations, though there was no suggestion of any Warcraft style virtual marketplaces or taverns.

The networked UK battle sims are relatively cheap because they don't tilt and swivel like normal flight simulators. Nonetheless, they allow military air crews to practice team operations in much the same way as gamers at a LAN party or using an internet hookup. Transatlantic latency was only 0.2sec in the recent trials, apparently.

Of course, the ability to give a pilot all the information he needs to carry out his mission almost instantly across thousands of miles can have other implications. It's already quite normal for pilots handling remote Predator drones over Iraq or Afghanistan to be sitting in a comfortable base near Las Vegas.

It's also perfectly possible to modify helicopters or even combat jets for remote control - as of last month no less than 217 mothballed 15-tonne F-4 Phantoms had been converted to remote control for use as targets or decoys.

The latest generation of drones are actually true flying robots which can land and take off autonomously - such as the US Warrior auto-plane and Fire Scout droid gunship. They don't even need a trained pilot on the remote control.

The very technology which Qinetiq and the RAF are using to train pilots may soon make flight personnel largely obsolete. ®

*The training is synthetic, not Wg Cdr Dobson. We assume.

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Brit telcos warn Scots that voting Yes could lead to HEFTY bills
BT and Co: Independence vote likely to mean 'increased costs'
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Blockbuster book lays out the first 20 years of the Smartphone Wars
Symbian's David Wood bares all. Not for the faint hearted
Bonking with Apple has POUNDED mobe operators' wallets
... into submission. Weve squeals, ditches payment plans
This flashlight app requires: Your contacts list, identity, access to your camera...
Who us, dodgy? Vast majority of mobile apps fail privacy test
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.