The Portuguese Air Force (PRTAF) has now taken delivery of a complete training centre with a tactical F-16 pilot training system, DART-PT, which was jointly developed by IFAD TS A/S (IFAD) and subcontractor Arenalogic ApS (AL). The system includes training modules for Fighter Controllers (GCI) and JTACs.

DART-PT is a new combined F-16 and JTAC/GCI tactical training centre, which will support the Portuguese defence in educating and training their F-16 pilots in tactical Air-to-Air and Air-to- Ground operations, their Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTAC) in Close Air Support (CAS) operations, and GCI personnel. The hand over of the training centre to the PRTAF took place after a thorough final test period at the Monte Real Air Base in Portugal. The DART-PT was delivered after only 15 months of development time.

The use of proven gateways, with standard protocols for data exchange, such as DIS, HLA and Link16, assures interoperability with other sites, enabling joint distributed exercises, e.g., in Multi-Domain operations. PRTAF, IFAD and AL have collaborated in the efforts to finalize the advanced DART-PT training centre.

For PRTAF, delivery of the new F-16 simulator capacity means that the pilots can train in a simulator that reflects systems and capabilities of the current PRTAF F-16 Mid-Life-Update (MLU) configuration. PRTAF can train with the latest weapons and sensor systems made available for the PRTAF F-16 aircraft, both for Air-to-Air (A/A) and Air-to-Ground (A/G) mission sets, including possibility of live integration of real-life JTAC’s and real-life Fighter Controllers (FC) for added realism and training value. This provides a very comprehensive training capability to the PRTAF.

Some of the latest developments in this respect are the possibilities to conduct simulated sorties during night conditions utilizing Night Vision Googles (NVG). The Electronic Flight Bag (EFB), which is a tablet to be carried in flight, has also been integrated into the system.

“The integration of the DART-PT training centre has significantly enhanced the operationalization of F-16 Tactical Training,” – said PrtAF DART-PT Program Manager Deputy. “Through its advanced capabilities, DART-PT has enabled the execution of swift and meticulously precise training exercises. This technological integration has not only optimized training efficiency but also bolstered the overall readiness of our F-16 crews. We acknowledge DART’s pivotal role in elevating our training methodologies and strengthening our commitment to maintaining the highest standards of aerial combat proficiency.”

It is also now possible to connect the DART-PT with live aircraft in the air via the Link-16 network. This enables the pilots to see each other on screens, communicate and observe when weapons release, all in real time. These capabilities provide completely new opportunities for the pilots during training, i.e., collaborative mission training between simulated and live aircraft.