Virtual training tech will put Canadian Army vehicle crews “at full sprint”

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Article / February 24, 2016 / Project number: 15-0224

Ottawa, Ontario — Big plans are afoot that will see the Army adopt significant simulation technology to train its combat vehicle crews.

The Land Vehicle Crew Training System (LVCTS) project is only in the earliest stages, and a request for proposals will not go out to manufacturers before 2020. However, as project director Major Dan Turcotte explained, officials already have a solid vision for where and how virtual training will be done once the equipment is in place.

The Canadian Army Doctrine and Training Centre envisions effective training in simulators to qualify crews prior to conducting live fire exercises or operations,” said Maj Turcotte. “Using this approach, we expect that the quality of training achieved will improve while the cost of training will go down.

The project is a response to the introduction of several new vehicles to the Army’s fleet: the Leopard 2 main battle tank, the Light Armoured Vehicle III Upgrade (LAV III UP) and the Tactical Armoured Patrol Vehicle (TAPV). These will render current Army simulators obsolete, Maj Turcotte said, adding that some of the skills crews need may only be exercised in simulators due to transportation regulations, geographical limitations and other possible restrictions.

Maj Turcotte, along with prior project directors, has visited virtual training centres in Britain, the Netherlands and Switzerland to get a sense of the technology available and best practices. Each has just one facility, he said, whereas the Army plans to bring the simulators to the troops by installing them at all of its major bases: Gagetown, Valcartier, Petawawa, Shilo and Edmonton.

So you can appreciate the magnitude,” he said. “They each have one but we’re bringing in five. We’re going from zero and leveraging every lesson they’ve learned.

Crews undergo live training in Alberta at Canadian Forces Base/Area Support Unit Wainwright, home to the Army’s largest Weapons Effects Simulator (WES) installation, where they participate in mock battles using laser technology that simulates real weapons fire and damage. It takes a good deal of training before one is fully ready for large scale WES exercises, Maj Turcotte said, and the LVCTS will allow more soldiers to stay in battle-ready shape while they wait for their turn.

Using the WES involves a lot of training,” Maj Turcotte said. “Only some troops can get to that level of training every year. With the LVCTS the intent is, in the meantime, to supplement and compliment the training.

Networking capability has also been identified as a key component of the LVCTS and the Army is seeking a system that will allow as many as 175 crew members at each base to train together in the same simulated scenarios.

The network is really the infrastructure to tie them all together,” Maj Turcotte said. “You get the ability to train in the same scenario. They ultimately could train all in different scenarios or all in the same scenario and every combination in between.

While the LVCTS project does not include plans to network the various bases together, Maj Turcotte said this is being discussed as part of a separate project.

LAV III UP crews are currently training on the Interim Crew Gunnery Simulator (ICGS) while Leopard 2 crews are using the Leopard 2 Gunnery Skills Trainer (LGST).

The ICGS is a desktop-based simulator to represent individual crew stations to basically train one single LAV crew,” Maj Turcotte explained. “The LGST provides training on crew stations on the tank but primarily it’s for the gunner and tank commander.” He said the current system doesn’t offer the same flexibility and collective training opportunities and that the LVCTS project represents a leap forward in Army training capability.

We can anticipate Army training changing significantly with the introduction of such an immersive virtual training system. Our current approach to training sees individual soldiers and crews achieving a range of separate skills before getting into the field. With virtual simulation integrated into the mix, soldiers will be at full sprint by the time they get to field training exercises.

By Steven Fouchard, Army Public Affairs

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