BAE Systems brings virtual battlefield to life with Presagis

  • 03-May-2010 03:22 EDT

This simulated image from BAE Systems’ integrated aircrew training (IAT) system shows a simulated electro-optical sensor view of a tank burning in Lytham, England.

For more than five years, BAE Systems has been working to develop its integrated aircrew training (IAT) system, enabling pilots and navigators to train in flight with a mix of live and virtual elements. Designed to enable aircrew to reach operational readiness more cost-effectively, IAT makes day-to-day training more realistic and allows missions to be adapted to introduce new scenarios and add or remove enemy or allied forces.

“This new concept reduces the demand and relieves the pressure on expensive, scarce, and hard-working assets,” said Nigel Davey, Managing Director–Training & Hawk U.K. “It provides the ability to synthetically generate equipment and stores, which means that aircraft used for training do not need all equipment used in theatre.”

To create and display terrain and entities to provide a synthetic emulation of an airborne advanced targeting pod for training of frontline Royal Air Force (RAF) aircrew and Forward Air Controllers, BAE Systems has begun using Vega Prime and Creator software from Presagis.

“Using Presagis software helps us to deliver realistic, blended training environments that can be easily adapted according to the RAF’s specific needs,” said Dave Bowman, Chief Engineer IAT, BAE Systems. “The application emulates actual operational experiences and will support the advanced training requirements for aircrew and supporting assets.”

To emulate the advanced targeting pod, such as those currently fitted to a number of RAF aircraft, BAE Systems employed three Vega Prime modules: Vega Prime Camera, Vega Prime FX, and Vega Prime LADBM (Large Area Database Management).

Vega Prime Camera provides BAE Systems with the ability to simulate the aircraft’s pod image. The module is able to simulate color or monochrome video or optical devices used on any type of surveillance vehicle or closed-circuit video system. Vega Prime Camera offers a range of camera effects, including blur, saturation, invert, jitter, etc.

To add special effects, including simulated explosions, missile trails, and fire, to the scenario, BAE uses Vega Prime FX. The display, timing, triggering, and performance characteristics of effects within scenes can be customized by predefining and adjusting the number of visual attributes. Other special effects include splash, debris, rotating blades, and smoke.

To eliminate the jitter normally experienced when developers load databases manually and ensure the simulation runs smoothly, Vega Prime LADBM automatically pages in new databases that are larger than can be contained in physical memory. LABDM is specifically designed to facilitate the development and deployment of applications that require very large or complex databases.

Models within the scenario, including urban landscape, aircraft, and vehicles, are created using Creator Pro and Creator Terrain Studio from Presagis. Using photographic images as references, BAE Systems created aircraft and ground vehicle models. To optimize runtime performance, multiple levels of details are used and switch nodes represent damage states.

To develop the vast urban terrain consisting of 8000 buildings, BAE used preprocessed Shape Files to automatically generate the models in Creator Terrain Studio.

“Airspace availability, expense, and time can be huge barriers to consistent and efficient pilot training,” said Nick Giannias, Vice President of Research and Technology and Program Management at Presagis. “BAE Systems is using Presagis software to create true-to-life scenarios that integrate live and virtual elements to reduce costs and shrink timelines—all while ensuring the quality of training remains first-rate. Presagis is looking forward to the successful completion of BAE Systems’ application as it moves to production for the RAF.”

IAT was successfully demonstrated in Warton, England, for the RAF in June 2008. During this test a Tornado GR4 aircraft was equipped with an emulated advanced targeting pod and flew over Lytham, England. Coupled with a scenario that included two patrolling tanks and ground troops in Lytham, a virtual RAF forward air controller controlled proceedings from a vantage point near the town. While the system can run on a single aircraft, this demonstration proved the IAT is able to link to the ground and interface with the telemetry equipment onboard the aircraft.

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