The EHUD AACMI system stitches together live and virtual to train fighter pilots for precision. Arie Egozi explains.

A small airspace and an entanglement of threats, assets and allies has defined the need for a surgical air attack capability for the Israeli Air Force (IAF) for decades. Currently, the need for accuracy has never been greater, nor the entanglement more complex than in the muddled Middle East today. These parameters create a heightened urgency for realistic, precise training.

The IAF trains using many methods and systems, but the pinnacle is EHUD, named after a pilot killed in an air combat training scenario. EHUD is a “rangeless” and fully autonomous air combat maneuvering instrumentation (AACMI) system which allows fighter aircraft pilots to train in scenarios that could never otherwise be included in the training schedule.

EHUD is a real-time training, debriefing and safety system. According to Amit Haimovich, director of marketing and business development at IAI's MALAM division, EHUD enables live training, including the firing of simulated armaments, real time hit / miss assessments and outstanding debriefing capabilities.

EHUD is used with AIM-9L, Hellfire and R73 enclosures in a range of onboard LRU boxes, in racks designed for ships, utility helicopters and air defense platforms. “The system can be installed in additional enclosures as required; it is designed to be carried by many platforms,” Haimovich said.

Recently, IAI delivered the 1600th EHUD AACMI system. The system is now used by 17 air forces in the world's important fighter jets: F-15, F-16, F-18, Eurofighter Typhoon, Su30, Mig29 and others.

The EHUD is fitted to all the IAF's fighter aircraft as well as the IAF M-346 (LAVI) advanced trainers. The IAF has enhanced the capabilities of its LAVI trainers by adding external fuel tanks and the capability to carry live bombs to enhance the training for air-to-ground missions, the type that Israeli pilots are performing recently in large numbers. According to Haimovich, the use of EHUD opens the door for shared live drills and debriefing with the Lavi advanced trainers.

He said all future sales of the M-346 by aircraft manufacturer Leonardo will include the EHUD in an internal configuration.

In addition, IAI is providing on-demand training services, assigning training experts to manage and oversee the debriefing systems in a range of air force activities.

5th Gen EHUD is LVC-Capable

Now in its fifth generation, EHUD enables smooth transition into the Live Virtual Constructive (LVC) world, according to IAI, because its advanced infrastructure supports embedded constructive entities and simulation sensors. The EHUD family is complemented by advanced mobile and fixed ground stations and a complete range of support equipment.

Using the EHUD, Haimovich said that air forces are capable of making the most of every training sortie efficiently and accurately. "Our technologies leverage the new, state-of-the-art capabilities of EHUD and allow us to provide network support for LVC formats."

Haimovich explained: "Imagine a pilot of a fighter aircraft looking to the side at another pilot in another aircraft, who is in fact sitting in a simulator. Both are fighting against an enemy fighter that is generated by a computer. All this is achievable and segments of this capability are already fielded to leading air forces. The training pilot virtually launches an air-air missile and immediately sees if the missile hit the enemy's aircraft."

The same simulation works in air-ground scenarios – "Training over a range with real or inert munitions, the pilot normally needs to make another pass over the target to know if the target was hit. With our system he knows immediately and then he can release another bomb or missile. This is a dramatic time saver," up to 30%.

The 5th generation EHUD AACMI pod offers a new set of features using advanced and modern technologies such as new data link communications, improved security, encryption, and embedded simulations. (Air forces that are equipped with the fourth generation must upgrade to use the advanced capability.)

"The real-time processing of the data from the aircraft computers, special algorithms and a fast data link is the heart of the system," said Haimovich.

Current requirements are for a joint LVC network that links together live assets with different network requirements (fighters, helicopters, ships, ground-based air defense, etc.), computer-generated forces (CGF) and simulators – all training on the same network. The EHUD LVC transceiver is a software-defined radio that supports a mix of more than a thousand entities.

The EHUD LVC also enables weapon simulation between live aircraft. During live air-air engagement, the fighter pilot presses the pickle and simulates various weapon fly outs, taking into account the targets’ maneuvers and actions such as chaff and flare release.

The upgrade also enables a fighter aircraft to fire simulated weapon systems on live targets that also carry EHUD LVC. This allows effective training where the fighter fires simulated rather than live munitions and the target can identify hit or miss.

The upgrade also enables simulated attacks on mobile targets equipped with a ground subsystem that allows them to take an active part in an AACMI-based exercise and debriefing.

There is also an option to add laser verification to the targets. In this case only when there is a valid laser beam on the target and a valid hit simulation will a successful hit be declared.

The warfighter will be able to fire simulated armaments on ships if an EHUD LVC kit is installed on the ship.

Mating with the Cubic P5?

The IAF is in the process of integrating the Lockheed Martin F-35. This stealth aircraft is equipped with the P5 AACMI made by Cubic. The P5 Combat Training System/Tactical Combat Training System (CTS/TCTS) is the common air combat training platform used by the US Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and coalition partners, deployed in more than 30 ranges worldwide.

According to Haimovich, there is a proposal to allow the US-made system to "talk" with the EHUD carried by the other fighter aircraft.

The use of the AACMI makes redundant the use of a "Red Squadron" that depicts the enemy. "The reds sit in a ground simulator and create combat scenarios," the IAI executive said.

The EHUD system revolutionizes the training scene with fewer aircraft in the skies, the capability to plan and execute exactly very complicated missions in complex environments, and provide very precise debriefing after mission completion. 

Image credit: Eurofighter. embracing
Image credit: Eurofighter.

P5 LVC for Eurofighter, SLATE ATD

The DRS-Cubic ACMI P5 combat training pod is being integrated on 28 Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft (including half a dozen two-seat trainers) ordered by Kuwait for introduction in 2019, which lead consortium partner Leonardo DRS claims will be “the most advanced variant of the fighter jet ever made.”

Cubic Global Defense (CGD) unveiled the P5’s Live / Virtual / Constructive (LVC) training capabilities during a joint Secure LVC Advanced Training Environment (SLATE) Advanced Technology Demonstration (ATD) in September. Cubic is the industry system integrator for the US Air Force Research Lab's SLATE ATD, which uses fourth-generation aircraft with a multi-level encrypted ACMI waveform and airborne subsystems, in both tethered and untethered LVC training scenarios. – Rick Adams      

Originally published in Issue 6, 2018 of MS&T Magazine.