MetaVR's business partner Close Air Solutions uses Virtual Reality Scene Generator (VRSG) in its Immersive Close Air Support Simulator (iCASS) training system, which is 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.
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 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.
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 Ample Strike 18 exercise, which took place in the Czech Republic in September 2018.
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.
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. 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 Desktop simulator). The system also includes a Teleplan Globe's FACNAV Digitally Aided Close Air Support (DACAS) system.
Close Air Solutions provides international CAS training and simulation for forward air controllers (FACs), JTACs, aircrew, and the wider military community.
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.