This is the third in a series of short articles on military FSTD developments. We’ll resume from where we departed from our last glimpse of the fast-jet sector with a survey of a new F-35-focused training device entering this market space and then gain an update on the art-of-the possible by way of one novel flight simulator in development. 

What’s newsworthy is the efforts by one team to optimize mixed reality, AI and other enabling technologies in their FSTD and the efforts by a second prospective supplier to expand the technology envelope for motion in its product.  

MS&T Kauchak FSTD fast jet part 2 Brunner NovaSIm MR cockpit.pngMixed reality, AI and other enablers are brought to bear to allow the pilot to complete an array of training tasks including air-to-air refueling (above). Image credit: Brunner

2023 I/ITSEC Unveiling of F-35 Device

The burgeoning sales of Lockheed’s Martin’s F-35 continues to generate interest from content suppliers and service providers throughout the global S&T industry. 

One new market entry is the NovaSim MR F35 full-motion simulator.

Mario Ackermann, Sales & Marketing Manager at Brunner Elektronik AG (Brunner), told the author this November that the device is equipped with all types of necessary control-loading devices and an original-like F-35 cockpit. “This compact, transportable, easy-to-install and networkable simulator will take fighter jet training to the next level. One will discover the most realistic and immersive training solution thanks to its mixed reality [MR] view which lets pilots train with all needed equipment like in real life,” he added. 

The NovaSim MR F-35 device will make its public debut later this month at 2023 I/ITSEC, following several of demonstrations and previews with key defense simulation and training stakeholders in Brunner’s corporate showroom in Switzerland. 

The new NovaSim MR F-35 is suitable for supporting all types and levels of pilot training, according to Ackermann. “Learning the basics of fighter jet aviation, expanding cockpit experience or even strengthening skills in hypoxia procedure training and other skills. It enables part-task training like air-to-air refueling, formation flying, and others to complete the various possible scenarios.”

The new FSTD supports F-35 A, B and C variants by way of separate flight physics models and type-specific functionalities (VTOL, carrier landing and others.) It appears this industry team is positioning itself to remain ahead of the F-35 customers’ expanding mission sets.  

One major takeaway from this product is the decision to move this supported training enterprise into the mixed reality domain. Ackermann offered several opportunities this strategy presents when compared to using virtual reality, one of which was, “providing a live view of your body in the real replica cockpit to make the training operation feel natural.”

A wide-array of S&T companies came together to field the new FSTD. The NovaSim MR F-35 was developed in collaboration with Viper Wing, the provider of the custom-made F-35-like cockpit. Ackermann added, “With their expertise in full aluminum cockpit building, Viper Wing adapted the ultimate F-35 cockpit to fit the Brunner NovaSim MR. To enjoy the highest quality of mixed reality in our simulators the partnership with Varjo and their outstanding HMDs has been very valuable. Simulation software packages like Prepar3D and Aechelon’s PC Nova make the NovaSim MR F-35 the outstanding product it is,” and emphasized, “The NovaSim MR F-35 is compatible with many different headsets and software products which adds extra flexibility and customization possibilities for our customers.” 

Other technologies are being brought to bear in the new FSTD. Ackermann further explained the NovaSim MR F-35 comes with an instructor station which enables the trainer, thanks to eye tracking to follow the pilots view, and AI-driven detailed data evaluation supports the individual review in debriefings. “Not only is the NovaSim MR F-35 fully immersive, but also provides the realistic cockpit feeling with all its realistic replicas of avionics, hands-on-throttle-and-stick  and dynamic control loading devices.” 

Beyond 2023 I/ITSEC, Brunner will be focused on enhancing the baseline new device through n new software integration and flight physics model improvements. 

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Brunner's NovaSim MR F35 full-motion simulator (exterior photo above) will be presented to the community at 2023 I/ITSEC. Image credit: Brunner 

Envisioned Disruptor 

The Saturn Flight Simulator, “a patented and disruptive flight training simulator, has garnered 

lots of positive feedback and interest from the aviation industry,” Niraj Rawal, Founder and CEO of Saturn Flight Simulator, told MS&T. The Hicksville, New York-based executive added that the nascent simulator has “the potential to disrupt – it is positioned to be the next norm for the flight training industry.” Rawal then pointed out the simulator encompasses “unrestricted 360-degree rotation on yaw, roll and pitch, and linear movement for heave, making it one-of-a-kind simulator for all types and levels of military pilot training including: defense/combat; upset prevention and recovery (UPRT) and spatial disorientation.

The novel flight simulator, reportedly incorporates 4-DOF mechanical motion to simulate full 6-DOF motion as experienced by the user.   As a result of the device’s kinematic configuration, this simulator can achieve simulation of flight profiles that are not achievable using alternate/current FSTD-flight simulator motion architectures, for instance, “initial or recurrent with spins, stalls-UPRT and others,” throughout a military pilot’s training continuum according to the executive. “Although a three-axis gimbal system has been well-proven for angular motion control in various other applications, it has not yet been applied to a flight simulation application and represents a novel approach which allows flight path trajectories that are not achievable with the traditionally used Stewart platform [motion base, 6-DOF platform],” Rawal said. 

The Saturn Flight Simulator is in the Engineering Phase of its life cycle, with the company actively seeking funds to develop a prototype. “In this effort we are indeed trying to reach out to various government agencies for funding through various resources and channels. Additionally, the company is planning to submit the certification and qualification request with FAA as soon as we have a working prototype and anticipate this to happen in mid- to late 2024. This would be followed by gaining like decisions from EASA and other civil regulatory agencies.” After regulatory certification and qualification, lead device manufacturing could begin in 2025.  

Elaborating a bit more on the disruptor label regulatory agencies will see, Rawal added the new simulator is “designed to replace and overcome the limitations of traditional Stewart platform simulators, which have maximum displacement of 25-30 degrees, and are inheritably expensive for purchase, operation, and maintenance. We are positioning our various model of simulators to replace existing fleets of Class B, C and D level FTDs/FFSs/AFTDs.”

Of relevance to MS&T companion editorial program CAT, the Saturn Flight Simulator would also be marketed to the broad commercial aviation sector training enterprise for manned and unmanned, rotary- and fixed wing aircraft.

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