Navy orders new simulation systems for pilots

With two new contracts, the service looks to expand training programs, particularly for pilots of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

The military has long stressed the importance of simulations in training, and the Navy has reinforced that with two contracts awarded this week.

The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division awarded American Electronic Warfare Associates a $91.3 million contract to American Electronic Warfare Associates for engineering, management and technical services in support of the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division’s Integrated Battlespace Simulation and Test Department, the Defense Department announced. Work is to be completed by August 2020.

The Naval Air Systems Command meanwhile awarded Lockheed Martin a $20.8 million contract to create a simulation that will give pilots of the F-35C Lightning II carrier-based Joint Strike Fighter to provide training in realistic scenarios at the Naval Air Station Lemoore Training Infrastructure System and Pilot Fitting Facility.

The Integrated Battlespace Simulation and Test Department is NAVAIR’s center for research, development, test and evaluation of avionics and weapons systems. It maintains several test facilities that provide realistic combat environments for combat missions, including those involving electronic warfare. Among other aircraft, it has performed testing and evaluation for the F-35.

The department builds what it calls Pattern–Unit Cockpit training systems that are used to evaluate the efficiency of a cockpit layout and how it affects the efficiency of the crew. It also provides a variety of communications simulations to assess interoperability and other factors, while also providing simulations to assess radar, target identification and other elements in the kill chain.

Naval Air Station Lemoore, a Master Jet Base in California, gas since 1998 been the West Coast home to the Navy F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighter. With the Joint Strike Fighter being declared combat-ready by the Air Force, and the Navy expected to follow with its version by 2019, NAVAIR has tapped Lockheed, maker of the fighter, to design, build and install an F-35 training facility at Lemoore by March 2019.

The F-35C Training Infrastructure System (TIS) and Pilot Fitting Facility, which has been installed at a number of Air Force and Marine bases, includes several simulators depicting a variety of threats (air-to-air, surface-to-air, etc.) along with rooms for planning, briefing and debriefing.