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MetaVR VRSG in Close Air Solutions' JTAC Trainer at UK JTAC Schoolhouse

MetaVR's business partner Close Air Solutions uses VRSG in its Immersive Close Air Support Simulator (iCASS) training system. Since 2015, the iCASS has been in use in the UK’s FAC/JTAC Training Programme, at the Joint Forward Air Control Training and Standardisation Unit (JFACTSU), Royal Air Force Station Leeming, North Yorkshire, England.


Close Air Solutions' iCASS simulator at Exercise Terminal Strike, July 2017. MetaVR's Kismayo terrain is rendered in VRSG on the curved display. (Photo courtesy of Close Air Solutions.)

The iCASS system provides a high-fidelity, immersive training environment featuring a 3 meter 240 x 120 degree FOV immersive dome display from Immersive Display Group and uses MetaVR visuals: 12 Virtual Reality Scene Generator™ (VRSG™) channels for the projected views and simulated laser target designator and range finder devices, geospecific 3D terrain, and 3D model libraries. The system meets DIS/SISO standards.

Close Air Solutions' iCASS simulator.
Close Air Solutions' iCASS simulator at Joint Forward Air Controller Training and Standards Unit (JFACTSU), RAF Leeming, UK.

The iCASS also features computer generated/semi-automated forces and threat generation from MetaVR's business partner Battlespace Simulations' (BSI's) Modern Combat Environment (MACE), which includes CFF, 9-Line, and 5-Line interfaces as well as the virtual pilot station. Also used in the system are BSI's Viper DIS radio for communications and DIScord DIS recorder for after action review (AAR).

Most recently, the iCASS was used by JTACs participating in the Exercise Terminal Strike 17-1, which took place in the UK in July 2017.

The iCASS is accredited by the US Joint Fires Support Executive Steering Committee (JFS ESC) Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) and NATO AIRCOM (STANAG 3797) to replace up to 8 out of 12 live controls required annually by each qualified FAC/JTAC.

Close Air Solutions' iCASS simulator.
Close Air Solutions' iCASS simulator at JFACTSU, June 12, 2015, during the official ribbon-cutting ceremony by Air Officer Commanding RAF 1 Group, Air Vice Marshall Gary Waterfall.

The JFACTSU use the iCASS for training UK FACs/JTACs to the highest possible accreditation standard in Types 1, 2, and 3 terminal attack controls and in air-to-surface fires, and with capabilities for:
- Day and night time (with NVGs during night controls)
- Ground laser target designator
- IR pointer
- Video Downlink
- Surface to surface fires

The iCASS is in use throughout the JFACTSU curriculum for familiarization, acquisition, practice, and potentially for validation of students.

The contract to supply the JFACTSU with iCASS was awarded in November 2014. In February 2015, Close Air Solutions delivered (in partnership with Selex ES (now Leonardo)) and installed both an iCASS-240 immersive simulator and an iCASS desktop simulator (similar to the BSI/MetaVR AJS Desktop simulator). The system also includes a Teleplan Globe's FACNAV Digitally Aided Close Air Support (DACAS) system.

Close Air Solutions at ITEC'15: iCASS dome with MetaVR VRSG-driven view.   Close Air Solutions at ITEC'15: integrated close air support demo with MetaVR VRSG and with Omnifinity's Omnideck.
Close Air Solutions at ITEC'15: iCASS dome with VRSG-driven view (left) and integrated close air support demo with VRSG and with Omnifinity's Omnideck (right). A post-ITEC summary of the Close Air Solutions demos can be found here.

Close Air Solutions provides international CAS training and simulation for forward air controllers (FACs), JTACs, aircrew, and the wider military community.

Close Air Solutions' iCASS simulator.
Detail of BSI's Viper DIS Radio (with PRC-117G skin) and VRSG's simulated sensor video feed in Close Air Solutions' iCASS simulator.

JFACTSU at RAF Leeming is the only NATO and US Joint Services accredited UK Defence facility for training FACs/JTACs. The JFACTSU currently trains around 100 FACs/JTACs per year from all UK military services (Army, Royal Marines, RAF Regiment, and Special Forces). The installation of the iCASS expanded the current training options offered at the school.

The initiative behind the development of the iCASS system began with the two Close Air Solutions co-founders, who are former JFACTSU instructors and simulator system architects. During their tenure at the school, they saw the need for students to train on an easy-to-use realistic simulation system.

An early demonstration of the iCASS capabilities was during Exercise Ample Strike 2014.

In 2016, Close Air Solutions was granted Phase 2 funding from the UK Centre for Defence Enterprise to develop their mixed-reality Hyper Real training solution for the joint fires community. In the cost-effective solution, VRSG will supply visuals in a display mounted within a virtual-reality helmet worn by trainees to augment live training on the range.

All photographs except for ITEC'15 photos are courtesy of Close Air Solutions.

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