The US Navy’s Aegis missile system training program is evolving and with good reason. The threat sets, including ballistic missiles, against which the Aegis system is designed, have gotten faster and deadlier.

At the same time, other nations’ naval forces have fielded the Aegis system, providing a compelling reason for expanding the scope and breadth of training for new learning audiences.

This October, the US Navy’s Center for Surface Combat Systems (CSCS) and its learning site, Aegis Training and Readiness Center (ATRC) onboard Naval Support Facility Dahlgren, Virginia, celebrated 30 years of training. The anniversary also served as an opportunity to look downstream - on the community’s future training horizon.

As a reference point, ATRC graduates around 800 enlisted AEGIS technicians and 900 AEGIS / Ship Self Defense System trained officers per year.

With their sights on the future, CSCS and ATRC have implemented a process of innovation that seeks out and incorporates new methods of instruction and training devices to create and enable the "classroom of the future.” LCDR Kate Meadows, the public affairs officer at Naval Education & Training Command, pointed out the CSCS’ classroom of the future technology enabler standards are that they must optimize a sailor's career learning continuum, be utilized at the right time in a sailor's career and are delivered via the most efficient and cost effective means. “Currently ATRC and industry partners are experimenting with delivering the Tactical Operating Environment (TACTOE) course of instruction through a virtual world. The TACTOE Proof of Concept began in early 2015 by identifying course convenes for control and proof of concept courses,” the spokesperson added. The TACTOE Course content was moved in its entirety into a virtual environment with no changes to the course. The instructors were trained on the virtual world tools and technologies and conducted practice teaches prior to the first proof of concept that started this October 29. Meadows continued, “In addition, CSCS and ATRC are reviewing an Onboard Individual Learning System to create a Ship Learning Continuum System modeled after the submarine force's Submarine Onboard Training System. The Onboard learning is envisioned to be delivered through an immersive / interactive environment to develop and maintain skills and knowledge of a sailor.”

ATRC is also implementing the Navy's newest surface tactics for the Naval Integrated Fire Control Counter Air (NIFC-CA) into its established Integrated Air and Ballistic Missile Defense training. Meadows explained “Training is conducted in our labs / simulators during our Integrated Air and Missile Defense week. The first run of these NIFC-CA scenarios will be during our November lab cycle.”

The International Aegis Fleet currently includes Australia, Japan, Norway, South Korea, and Spain with two additional countries in development. Several other countries are supported for individual combat systems training across multiple platforms and disciplines.

The Center for Surface Combat Systems, ATRC’s parent command, develops, coordinates and implements Integrated Weapon System and Aegis training programs for allied navies implementing tailored training packages to meet defined and unique training requirements. “These requirements include developing tailored Aegis curriculum to the foreign military sales customers’ baseline. Training is conducted in classrooms, at the waterfront onboard ships in the US and in the foreign military’s country, as well as distance learning via the Internet,” the Navy spokesperson added. This includes exporting electronic classrooms, computer-based training, interactive courseware, use of simulated advanced technical equipment and operator simulations.