A new, purpose-built Chinook Mk 6 synthetic training facility replicating real-life operations for Chinook helicopter crews with the latest technology has been officially opened for the UK Royal Air Force. The Chinook Mk 6 synthetic training facility was built following a £53 million contract with Lockheed Martin UK, Rotary and Mission Systems. It is housed at RAF Odiham in Hampshire – home of the Chinook Force, a key component of the Joint Helicopter Command.
The state-of-the-art technology includes two Flight Deck Device simulators, a Rear Crew Device and a suite of Computer Based Training equipment. It will train crews on how to work together in specific flying, emergency and mission capabilities of the Chinook Mk6 aircraft, such as relocating troops and equipment around the battlefield or evacuating citizens from dangerous conditions in national and overseas environments.
Defence Minister Mark Lancaster said: “The Chinook Force has continuously proven itself by supporting humanitarian efforts, strengthening counter-terror operations and providing essential support to our Armed Forces. Our ability to put it to use will be bolstered by this multi-million-pound new training facility. Chinooks are the backbone of our battlefield helicopter capability so it’s crucial this capability and its crews are receiving this support into the next decade.”
This highly realistic and immersive environment allows aircrew to undertake high risk training operations such as a battlefield re-supply or a medical evacuation in an urban area from the safety of a simulator.
The augmented reality technology will help Chinook crews rehearse missions as a whole-crew synthetic environment for the first time in the 40-year history of the UK Chinook Force. It will also help Chinook pilots refine their aircraft handling skills in a range of emergency scenarios including rotor blade damage, turbulence caused by adjacent aircraft, complex electrical emergencies and fuel management hazards.
The Chinook Mk6 Synthetic Training System will deliver around 4,000 simulator hours each year for a period of ten years ensuring crews are at a permanent state of readiness to deploy.
The Chinook is the UK’s only military heavy lift helicopter and can transport up to 54 troops or 10 tonnes of supplies in support of operations.
While similar to the Mk4 helicopters, the Mk6 have differences to the operating systems, avionics display and the flight control system, which require a new and specific training service.
Director Air Support at Defence Equipment and Support Adrian Baguley said: “DE&S is proud to be providing this new state-of-the-art chinook training facility for the Chinook Force that draws on cutting edge technology, including Augmented Reality, to give the whole of our Chinook crews a new immersive synthetic training capability. This new world-class facility will enable the crews to prepare for missions across the globe.”