MetaVR VRSG Provides Visuals for JTAC Simulation
MetaVR's Joint Terminal Attack Control (JTAC) simulation system, developed jointly with Battlespace Simulations (BSI), was recently granted accreditation by the Joint Fire Support Executive Steering Committee for JTAC training. The system is accredited for types 1, 2, 3 for both day and night, and for laser target designation with simulated military laser, in accordance with the JTAC Memorandum of Agreement. Type 1 accreditation requires either a head-mounted display (HMD) or a 220+ degree FOV dome display.
The accreditation followed a demonstration to members of the Joint Fire Support Executive Steering Committee (JFS ESC) at Hurlburt Field, FL, on May 24, 2012. Initial consideration for this accreditation resulted from a competitive fly-off at Hurlburt Field in August 2011, in which the BSI and MetaVR joint system was ranked the highest among five competing simulation systems in meeting the requirements for JTAC simulators.
This JTAC simulator is comprised of BSI's Modern Air Combat Environment (MACE) scenario/entity generator and MetaVR’s Virtual Reality Scene Generator (VRSG). The system also includes an integrated software based Distributed Interactive Simulation (DIS) radio, a recording capability for recording and AAR/playback of missions, and a simulated Mark VIIE or SOFLAM laser range finder/laser designator.
The JFS ESC accreditation applies to any JTAC simulator that uses VRSG version 5.7 and BSI MACE version 1.0 or greater, such as the AFSOC JTAC trainer, USAF J-T/OSS, AAJTS, JFIRES, and JTAC-TRS systems.
The BSI/MetaVR JTAC simulation system, a privately funded COTS solution, enables users to perform training missions on a virtual battlefield with close air support interfaces such as 9-Line, 5-Line, and Call for Fire.
This joint effort JTAC simulator is offered as a commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) firm fixed price simulator with publicly available pricing, and is available in portable and desktop configurations with a head-mounted display, and as an integrated system with a fully immersive transportable dome or curved desktop screen display from Immersive Display Solutions. Dome-based systems can be delivered within three months; delivery of desktop systems is within 30 days.
The BSI/MetaVR system has been fully integrated at the Michigan Air National Guard's 4-meter Joint Fires Dome in Grayling, MI, AFSOC's Special Tactics Training at Hurlburt Field, FL, and AFRL's JTAC-TRS 5-meter domes, and is currently being developed for additional US and international customers.
As of November 2012, sales following the accreditation include 14 JTAC simulators to AFSOC and the U.S. Air Combat Command (ACC) (9 desktop and portable simulators to AFSOC, 5 to ACC). In addition, 6 desktop JTAC simulators have been sold to the U.S. Air Force Distributed Mission Operations Center (DMOC) at Kirtland Air Force Base for version 2 of its JTAC-TACP/Operational Simulation Suite (J-T/OSS), to bring the total recent sales of JTAC simulator to the U.S. Air Force to $2.3 million. In a related effort, MetaVR was chosen by the Air National Guard to be the visual system for its Advanced Air National Guard Simulation (AAJTS) prototype system. MetaVR real time 3D visuals will be used on the first two full-up 4-meter dome configurations of the JTAC simulator. The 240-degree horizontal x 100-degree vertical partial-dome displays are produced by Immersive Display Solutions. The AAJTS simulators will be delivered to the Air Education and Training Command (AETC) at Randolph Air Force Base.
Since 2009 VRSG has been used in various configurations to simulate the functionality needed for JTAC warfighter training in close air support (CAS) exercises, ranging from desktop to dome systems.
Air National Guard
Air National Guard JTACs first developed their own desktop close air support training simulators with MetaVR VRSG in 2009. Trainees use VRSG in a first person shooter mode with a gamepad as the navigation device. Working in the JTAC mode of VRSG’s First Person Simulator™ (FPS), a trainee sees targeting and designating symbology similar to what the operator would see in a range finder or laser designator.
Collaborating with other players in a simulated close air support (CAS) exercise through the Distributed Training Operations Center (DTOC) for Distributed Mission Operations, while using VRSG's game-like interface, the JTAC trainee at the desktop can simulate walking and using binoculars and designator devices, while interacting and communicating with others (such as calling out target coordinates to a pilot) via a simulated radio over the network. The JTAC trainee views a UAV feed provided by VRSG through a ROVER, while locating common reference points for carrying out a mission and laser designating a target. The STANAG 4096-compliant EG 0601.1 and MISB 0104.5 metadata encoding in the VRSG real-time video stream stimulates the fielded ROVER hardware as if it was receiving telemetry from an actual ISR asset. VRSG also transmits a laser designator protocol data unit in DIS format that can be read by other simulators on the network to simulate a digital hand-off of coordinates.
This service-developed Air National Guard JTAC simulator helped provide the basis for the ACC to approve MetaVR VRSG for use in simulated JTAC training. With this approval, issued in 2009, the training hours JTACs spend using VRSG contribute to approved simulator training credits for terminal attack control requirements.
Approximately 30 ASOS sites in the US and overseas use VRSG for JTAC training in FPS JTAC mode and via a regeneration station. Networked environments that do not have the bandwidth to handle VRSG’s streaming MPEG (simulated UAV camera video feed) directly set up a UAV regeneration station to capture the streaming MPEG of the VRSG-simulated UAV camera payload video in the form of data packets. These data packets are then regenerated as video, and streamed to another device on a local network, such as a ROVER.
Using subject matter experts, the DTOC develops and maintains a series of training scenarios that create simulated threats on the network for the Air National Guard sites. It also creates a Multiple Unified Simulation Environment/Air Force Synthetic Environment for Reconnaissance and Surveillance (MUSE/AFSERS) simulated UAV camera video feed that the Air National Guard uses to jointly simulate a close air support mission on geospecific terrain that correlates across both facilities' simulation applications. The JTAC simulations are fully interoperable with the A-10 Full Mission Trainers, F-16 Air National Guard simulators, the MUSE/AFSERS program, and the Army National Guard TUAV trainers, as well as others.
The US Air Combat Command (ACC) is fielding MetaVR visuals in JTAC-TACP/Operational Simulation Suite (J-T/OSS) , which is used at the US Air Force’s Distributed Mission Operations Center (DMOC) at Kirtland Air Force Base (AFB). This system has been chosen by the ACC as the interim solution for the Joint Terminal Attack Controller Training Rehearsal System (JTAC TRS). J-T/OSS version 2.0 (which includes the accredited MetaVR/BSI JTAC simulator) will be the Interim Distributed Mission Operational (DMO) capable trainer until the JTAC TRS is fielded. In 2012, Kirtland AFB, which has used VRSG for networked DMO exercises since 1997, received 17 additional VRSG licenses for use in J-T/OSS systems; 11 of the licenses will be installed at several Air Support Operations Squadron (ASOS) sites. *
JFIRES at Grayling Air Gunnery Range
The Michigan Air National Guard’s Combat Readiness Training Center (CRTC) at the Grayling Air Gunnery Range in Alpena, MI uses the accredited MetaVR/BSI JTAC solution in its JTAC simulation training system, called the Grayling 4m JFIRES Dome.
Used in conjunction with the Human Effectiveness Directorate studies on JTAC simulator training, the Grayling JFIRES dome is comprised of a 4-meter dome with 4 MetaVR VRSG channels, an installed BSI MACE instructor operator station, a MACE person-in-the-loop pilot station with 1 VRSG channel dedicated to out-the-cockpit views and another VRSG channel for the sensor view. The dome has a 4-meter spherical screen, which gives a JTAC trainee a 160° to 170° horizontal field of view. The JTAC trainee also has two additional VRSG channels available for a monocular/binocular used for laser range finding and target designation as well as a full motion video ROVER-type feed for external targeting information. The simulator has a variety of DIS tools, including DIS radios and a DIS recorder. The instructor can control all constructive entities (including attacking aircraft and artillery), as well as ground entities and threats.
JTAC TRS prototype
Among other technologies used for JTAC training is the JTAC TRS prototype with its virtual trainer dome. The dome environment provides the JTAC operator with a fully immersive simulation that attempts to replicate what the soldier will see with the unaided eye in the real world. All visual cues that the trainee would see in the real world are simulated in the dome.
The JTAC TRS prototype, developed at AFRL, provides a high-fidelity, fully immersive, realistic training and rehearsal environment with real-time sensor, simulator, and database correlation. Its primary focus is to provide a persistent total air-ground virtual training environment for networked air/ground training and mission rehearsals. This prototype system is used to train both JTAC and combat air crews assigned to accomplish complex missions in close proximity to ground forces. The JTAC TRS prototype connects to distributed mission operations networks to enable geographically separated high-fidelity close air support platforms and JTAC and CCT teams to train together. Additionally, the JTAC TRS enables operators to conduct Joint Close Air Support (JCAS) training and mission rehearsal using tailored, dynamic scenarios that are relevant to mission tasking.
The JTAC TRS protoype, built by Lockheed Martin, uses 19 VRSG channels, 14 of which are for the dome itself. There are 7 VRSG channels for 360-degrees around the bottom half of the dome, and another 7 channels for the top half of the dome. The remaining VRSG channels are used for various emulated hand-held command and control (C2) devices inside the dome (binoculars, laser range finders, and so on), a sound channel, and a single AAR/stealth channel. The simulator is a high fidelity, realistic, fully immersive, real-time visual environment with sensor, simulator, and database correlation. The DIS/HLA compliant system interoperates with legacy systems and provides the capability to network with other air and ground simulators, including simulators of the A-10 program.
* The information on this web page is not an endorsement by the Air Combat Command or the Air National Guard of MetaVR products.