Virtual Training Environments Offer Real Benefits to Navy

The Navy is embracing touch-screen training technology as an affordable, virtual alternative to costly hardware systems the service currently uses to simulate weapons, machinery and communications equipment.

The Naval Aviation Training Systems Program Office (PMA-205) , which provides warfighters with advanced training systems for a variety of aircraft, will sponsor a demonstration of the Multipurpose Reconfigurable Training System (MRTS) ( pronounced MERTZ ) 3D™ devices in the service’s aviation schools near the end of 2015.

The Undersea Program Directorate at Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division (NAWCTSD) has introduced 14 MRTS devices at all seven U.S. Navy submarine training sites. NAWCTSD is using MRTS 3D™ to train Sailors on the operation and maintenance of electronics and mechanical systems of submarines by replicating the look and operation of tactical systems on their flat panel, touch-screen monitors. PMA-205 hopes the technology can be implemented in Aviation Support Equipment operations pipeline courses.

"The MRTS 3D system takes advantage of the fact that every Sailor coming into the Navy knows how to use a touch-screen tablet and has probably used a first-person perspective video game,” said Dave Williams, NAWCTSD’s undersea programs directorate deputy director. “We simulate a shipboard or flight-line environment in a virtual world and allow the Sailor to interact with the simulated tactical equipment.”

Since the MRTS 3D is a flexible system that allows for multiple software-based trainers to run on a single hardware suite, the Navy can reduce the costs associated with hardware and life-cycle support for tactical equipment.

“The cutting-edge MRTS is a versatile training system that’s affordable to our fleet,” said Capt. Craig Dorrans, PMA-205’s program manager . “For instance, a MRTS Common Submarine Radio Room (CSRR) software program costs the fleet $7 million. Compared to a cost of $22 million for tactical equipment offering the same training, that’s a savings of $15 million.”

The photo-realistic virtual trainers have garnered so much confidence from submarine squadron commanders that they have certified communications and weapons personnel for deployment, solely based on the crew’s performance in the MRTS trainer.

“Any system that can be modeled in a 3D environment can be developed as a MRTS 3D training solution at an enormous savings over training with tactical equipment,” Williams said.

PMA-205 provides warfighters with advanced training systems for a wide array of aircraft, affording U.S. Navy and Marine Corps aircrew and maintainers with the knowledge, skills and abilities that enable mission success.

Source: Naval Air Systems Command
Date: Jul 17, 2015