Market Growth … and More in North and South America

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Group Editor Marty Kauchak surveys S&T developments in South America and North America through the perspectives of four disparate industry companies.

This regional focus feature article selectively examines emerging technology and business trends influencing simulation and training industry suppliers, and their defense customers in two very different regions, South America and North America. While capabilities, force structure size and other attributes significantly vary among military services in this vast hemisphere, attention-getting, intersecting trends are also evident in the defense forces’ training readiness portfolios.

Defense and Other End-Uses

Armed services in South America and other parts of the hemisphere are responding to the imperative to prepare for missions throughout the continuum of conflict. While training enterprises ready their audiences for combat, they continue to support their nations’ evolving whole-of-government strategies for countering pandemics, and other man-made- and natural disasters.

MASA Group’s (MASA) SWORD constructive simulation, is helping to meet these evolving missions in more nations. Enrico Raue, the company’s International Sales and Marketing director, initially told MS&T that SWORD, is used by several armies in South America – at military training centers, staff colleges and military academies – in Brazil, Peru, Colombia and Ecuador.

The industry veteran discussed MASA’s “secret sauce” for allowing SWORD to remain relevant in the market space and increase its customer base. He pointed out the armies, including Columbia’s, have renewed their trust in SWORD on a regular basis for many years, as “it is important to always use the latest technology in terms of training and simulation.”

The corporate executive then reflected on some of the evolving requirements of defense customers in South America, noting the region’s armies “are sensitive to this point, as their job integrates more and more missions other than war, with a real involvement in supporting populations in the event of natural disasters.” In addition to combat scenarios, MASA’s customers frequently use SWORD in homeland security and defense crisis management scenarios, “to cope with El Niño, tsunamis, etc. Indeed, our South American military customers are responsive to the crisis management aspect of their simulation tool, and the possibility offered by SWORD to train with civilian units to respond to a given disaster is a major asset.”

Of further relevance as this issue is published, Raue noted during the Covid-19 pandemic, MASA has noticed an increased interest, both in the defense and public safety communities, to use this simulation as a tool to train decision makers. Reflecting on the use case of Peru’s army, the executive explained, “They are currently using the simulation to prepare for the arrival of the coronavirus vaccine and its distribution in the country. This is a typical use case of course-of-action analysis, where several scenarios are tested to compare their results in terms of time and resources to be deployed,” and added, “Using interoperability features, MASA engineers connected MASA SWORD with a Covid-19 contagion simulator to check the virus impact on both military and public safety operations and the feedback of those operations on the evolution of the pandemic.”

Raue called attention to other marketing developments in the SWORD portfolio in South America. The firm’s ability to better serve the Brazilian Army – MASA’s largest customer in South America, and with a long-term business relationship dating to 2012 – was further strengthened in 2017 with the creation of the entity MASA do Brazil, and rebranding SWORD as COMBATER.

A US Perspective: Operations and Training Entwined

As often noted in Halldale’s expanding editorial focus, AI and data analytics are increasingly being brought to bear to improve mission readiness in the military training and adjacent civil aviation training and safety critical training sectors. Raytheon Intelligence & Space (RI&S) is one representative S&T provider using and developing these enablers.

Harry Buhl, business development manager, Global Training and Logistics within RI&S, noted his company continues to be “the leading training company for the US Army as the service provider at the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, California, and the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany.”

At NTC, the RI&S team continues a decades-long high-consequence training mission for the US Army. To support this effort, RI&S ensures that from the time a Brigade Combat Team is identified for a training rotation, that all the elements of training management and logistics are seamlessly managed in order to ensure the brigade can focus on the serious mission of training for combat. “This behind-the-training orchestration includes cutting edge technology integrated across instrumentation, data, and visualization to ensure tough realistic and safe training,” he added.

Of added significance, Raytheon Intelligence & Space is a leading provider of AI and data analytics for the defense and intelligence communities. As operations and training become more intertwined through the fast pace of developing technology, RI&S is leveraging its operational AI and data analytics products for training. Buhl provided more context to this emerging competency, pointing out, “While many companies build training capabilities from scratch as training capabilities, we first look to operational products. This gives the government economies of scale and provides the trainee with intuitive training capabilities because they look, feel and perform like their mission kit,” and noted a good example is providing complexity in training.

As operations and training become more intertwined through the fast pace of developing technology, RI&S is leveraging its operational AI and data analytics products for training (here one representative training scenario is depicted). Image credit: Raytheon Intelligence & Space.

As an important datum point for this article and MS&T’s broader editorial program, Buhl opined, the military services are at different levels of capabilities and desired effects that can be delivered by AI/Machine Learning and data analytics. “Some are very focused on high-resolution, small-scale combat with very expensive machines, while others want to exploit data across large battlespaces,” he explained and noted with RI&S’s experience at the Army Combat Training Centers, his company has seen a full range of combat simulations and decisions with the complementary full range of outcomes. The RI&S executive continued, in part, “This data is essential for analytics and machine learning to enable the AI ‘to learn’. With this AI learning capability, we can help the training officer or noncommissioned officer to assess, in real time, if the training is likely to result in the desired terminal learning objectives.”

Canadian S&T Snapshots

This article’s trek north across the US-Canadian border initially finds InVeris Training Solutions “firmly entrenched” in Canadian Army simulation for small arms and indirect fire, according to Cyril Jordan, manager of customer support, Luc Plante, director, engineering and Ernie Penney, manager of systems operators. The three community subject matter experts initially explained all soldiers must train on the Small Arms Trainer (SAT) at the individual, team, group and section levels to sharpen their drills, and added, “InVeris simulators provide immediate feedback with analysis from the system and mentoring by our extremely qualified operators.”

Further, all artillery senior courses must pass through the Indirect Fire Trainer (IFT) prior to firing real howitzers. “This training provides the artillery non-commissioned officers (NCOs) and officers the practice they require in realistic scenarios, so they can improve and fine tune their skills,” they noted and added, “InVeris training solutions simulators and the outstanding service and support supplied to all Canadian bases constitute a highly impactful asset for further improving the shooting and indirect fire capabilities of Canadian soldiers.”

Elsewhere in the Canadian defense S&T market, France Hébert, vice president & general manager, CAE Canada, noted of CAE’s more than 10,000 employees worldwide, “nearly half of which are right here at home in 15 different locations across Canada. While we export about 90% of our products and services, we help create jobs and grow the defense industry in Canada by working with more than 425 Canadian companies. CAE also supports more than 30 simulators or training devices at our customers’ sites in Canada. As a training systems integrator, we help support Canada’s military preparedness by providing the most comprehensive and highest quality training solutions, services and operational systems.”

A snapshot of CAE’s military portfolio in Canada includes its role as prime contractor for the NATO Flying Training in Canada (NFTC) program, with the company helping train aircrews for the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) and allied forces, delivering over 24,000 flying hours of training annually.

Beyond NFTC, CAE has also been delivering maintenance and sustainment services for the CF-188 Hornet Operational Flight program since 1986 at its Mirabel facility near Montreal. Hébert continued, “CAE is nearing completion of the CC-295 Fixed-Wing Search and Rescue (FWSAR) aircrew and maintenance training systems that are currently being delivered to a new training facility in Comox, British Columbia. Following entry into service of the training systems, CAE will provide ongoing in-service support.” And beyond these activities, CAE is also the long-term contractor providing training services for the Royal Canadian Air Force’s CC-130J/H Hercules, CP-140 Aurora, CH-147F Chinook, CH-146 Griffon, CT-156 Harvard, and CT-155 Hawk.

CAE and other companies featured in this article plan to expand their portfolios in this region in, and well beyond, 2021.

New Products, Programs and More

MASA’s Raue revealed that during 2021, new versions of SWORD will be released that will improve the simulation’s broad logistic flow capabilities, including supply, health and maintenance. The executive further revealed, “Improved functionalities of the SWORD Timeline will also be included, making it possible to plan events and incidents for the exercise that are external of the simulation. This can, as example, be video, audio or other digital media that will be ‘pushed’ to the trainee to stimulate the scenario. During 2021, will also mark the availability of the first versions of a new improved after-action review module and a SWORD WEB client, focusing on the needs of the exercise controller staff.”

Back in the US, RI&S will strengthen its competencies in AI and associated training enablers.

The company’s Buhl observed the toughest problem is bringing the individual soldier into a synthetic training environment with realism and effectiveness. While tanks and helicopters are machines that provide an interface between the pilot or crew member to the battlefield, simulators that replicate the inside of a cupola or cockpit have been around for decades.

“With infantryman, however, there is no machine to interface with the battlefield. That soldier is in the battlefield. The Army IVAS [Integrated Visual Augmentation System] program will provide an interface that will be usable, but there are some significant technical challenges that must be solved for augmented reality to be a realistic training interface beyond close quarters training,” he remarked. Providing another glimpse of the future training environment, he concluded, “RI&S is leveraging some AI /ML, autonomy, data analytics, and other operationally fielded and evolving technologies, to solve these challenges, and bring the soldier into the same combined live-virtual battlefield that tanks and helicopters can now train within.”

InVeris has a burgeoning 2021 business plan in Canada. In one instance, the firm was scheduled for installation of two Illuminated Ballistic Optical Tracking (IBOT) systems in Kingston, Ontario as this issue was processed for publication. The three company spokespersons further noted their company was eyeing the renewal of its in-service support and operator contract with the Department of National Defence (DND) this Spring, and added, “We are in the process of finalizing the Standing Offer with DND as a vehicle to facilitate future purchases of training systems, weapons, installation and training services.”

Beyond this planned and prospective workload, InVeris will be finalizing the supply and installation of ballistic assemblies for a training facility intended for DND’s “most elite group of soldiers.” Additional work may result from DND’s review for the upgrade of its C6 simulated weapons with respect to: the addition of accessory rails; new gas regulators; and new polymer buttstock.

In yet another instance of dual-use, or cross-over, technologies used among high-risk sectors’ training communities, InVeris is also looking at expanding its commercial business for its live fire products, XWT GEN4 wireless target carrier with the Sherbrooke (Quebec) police department, and the Road Range mobile training facility in service with the city of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu (Quebec).

A three-screen InVeris COTS 8 / 300 D system, enables the use of InVeris C7A2 rifle wireless weapon simulators. Air Force personnel and military police train on this system at Canadian Forces Base Trenton, Ontario. Image credit: InVeris Training Solutions.

For its part, CAE reports it is ready to offer training solutions and operational support capabilities for evolving programs, to include Future Fighter Capability Program (FFCP), Future Aircrew Training (FAcT), Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS), and Cormorant Mid-Life Upgrade.

CAE’s Hébert shed light on two of these programs. In the case of the high profile, much-watched and long-gestating FFCP, the corporate leader first noted, with the objective of positioning CAE as the Training Systems Integrator and offering operational support for the Future Fighter Capability program, CAE has non-exclusive teaming agreements with both the SAAB-led “Gripen for Canada Team” and the Boeing Super Hornet team. “We would also hope to have the opportunity to support the RCAF and Lockheed Martin should the F-35 be selected,” the industry executive added.

In a second instance, CAE’s value proposition as part of Team SkyGuardian led by General Atomics Aeronautical, Inc. (GA-ASI) for Canada’s Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) is to leverage its experience in RPA training and in-service support, while helping grow Canada’s defense and aerospace sector with our established industry partners across the country.

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