RAF WADDINGTON, UK, Nov. 03, 2008 -- A QinetiQ-led team that includes The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA] is collectively delivering potentially life-saving pre-deployment training for UK forces before they leave for Afghanistan. The Distributed Synthetic Air Land Training (DSALT) demonstration facility at Royal Air Force (RAF) Waddington has been enhanced to enable soldiers to experience the complexities of controlling aircraft, artillery and other assets in fast-moving situations within a safe, simulated environment.
In a series of training exercises known as Mountain Dragon, the facility allows ground forces to practice talking with aircrew flying simulated aircraft within the same environment and directing them to specific targets within the rules of engagement and operational constraints.
"The soldiers experience firsthand the challenges of communicating clearly and concisely with aircrew, all in a risk-free environment," said Jon Saltmarsh, QinetiQ program director for the project. "Often this is the first experience many have of talking with an American pilot under operational conditions. They get to experience the subtle differences of our two languages and operating procedures, and the potential confusion this could cause."
The Boeing- and QinetiQ-owned, -built and -operated DSALT facility is a key element of the Air Battlespace Training Centre, a partnership between the RAF and industry to improve the training of UK frontline forces. Originally established to determine user requirements for a new aircrew mission-training program involving a network of simulated aircraft, the facility has been improved to support the training of ground-based forces in the control and strategic use of aircraft and artillery.
Training is provided by the RAF and the Royal School of Artillery with support staff from Inzpire, a company that specializes in supplying staff with recent military experience.
"Mountain Dragon exercises are very much a team event, with the RAF, the British Army, Boeing, QinetiQ and Inzpire all working together to deliver a unique and operationally critical training event to our forces," said RAF Wing Cmdr. "Elvis" Costello. "This is no longer simply a demonstration -- we are making a difference to our soldiers on real operations."
Boeing and QinetiQ are currently working together to improve the facility to enable it to provide even greater training value. "Converting a concept demonstrator into a robust and reliable training system presents huge challenges," said George German, Boeing program manager, DSALT. "Boeing and QinetiQ are working extremely well together to ensure we can continue to meet the UK forces' need for land-air integration training. I feel hugely privileged to be part of such a successful team."