ORLANDO, Fla., & COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., USA — The U.S. Air Force Academy has selected VBS3 and VBS Fires FST products from Bohemia Interactive Simulations and SimCentric Technologies for use in the Academy’s Military Strategic Studies course.
“What we are trying to do is expose cadets to how the U.S. Air Force employs air power at the operational level,” said Lt. Col. Casey Tidgewell, who leads, directs, and manages all U.S. Air Force Academy Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) education, training, and operations. “The course is designed to help cadets understand and develop airmanship skills as well as understand different career paths available to them in the Air Force.” Tidgewell adds that roughly 250 cadets a year will gain exposure to RPA and air power operations training through the course.
VBS3, developed by Bohemia Interactive Simulations, is a a full-featured virtual environment application, complete with scenario editors, after-action review, a massive content library, developer tools, an easy-to-use interoperability gateway, and a voice communications system. It is the standard in game-based desktop simulation for tactical training and mission rehearsal, and is by far the most widely used game-based simulation software among militaries today.
Prior to using VBS3, the U.S. Air Force Academy primarily relied on live training to introduce cadets to remotely piloted aircraft operations, using the RQ-11 Raven, a lightweight, hand-launched unmanned aerial system commonly used for low-altitude surveillance and reconnaissance intelligence.
“Before we had any simulation, we had students go through pre-flight for the RQ-11 Raven and would teach basic flight and controls, but we discovered there was a deficiency,” said Michael “Ski” Golembesky, the instructor for the USAFA RPA Program who incorporated VBS3 into the curriculum. “Weather in Colorado can change on a dime, which can interrupt live flight training. By using simulation, cadets gain more experience in the communications and teamwork involved with air operations centers and remotely piloted aircraft. Simulation also allows us to show a more realistic approach to how RPAs are used on a tactical level.”
Golembesky designed a series of scaffolded training scenarios using VBS3 that require cadets to conduct basic tasks such as tracking an individual using the virtual UAV to more challenging missions, designed to test a team’s ability to take commander’s intent to support a complex special operations nighttime mission. Golembesky noted that the VBS3 mission editors allow him the flexibility as training administrator to inject new elements into the scenario or control the pace of how events unfold in an exercise, depending on how quickly students progress. Cadets use mIRC chat and voice-over IP to simulate interactions over satellite communications with instructors playing different roles. VBS3 also connects to the Academy’s RPA simulator.
“We needed a simulation that was easy to use and user-friendly for college students, and VBS3 provided that,” said Lt. Col. Tidgewell. Golembesky added that ease of use enables cadets to take on more of a mentor and leadership role, which will in turn assist him in training and operating the simulation.
VBS3 includes more than 40 unmanned systems and provides a generic UAV interface for operation system payload sensors and weapons. UAV models also feature a variety of camera modes including Electro-Optical and Infrared views. VBS Fires FST, from SimCentric Technologies, simulates Call for Fire and Close Air Support activities within VBS3, providing exterior and terminal ballistics to high levels of detail and supports a wide array of munitions, fuse types and firing platforms.
BOHEMIA INTERACTIVE SIMULATIONS
Founded in 2001, Bohemia Interactive Simulations (BISim) is a global software company at the forefront of simulation training solutions for defense and civilian organizations. Our mission is to harness the explosive potential of technology to revolutionize training and simulation.
BISim utilizes the latest game-based technology and a large, experienced in-house team of engineers to develop high-fidelity, cost-effective training and simulation software products and components for defense applications.