When the British Army called on NSC to help those controlling surveillance assets in Afghanistan to hit the ground running, the training, simulation and consultancy specialist was quick to recruit Virtual Battlespace (VBS) as an ally.
Integrated into NSC’s custom-built Base ISTAR [intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance] emulation, which replicates the hi-tech equipment found in and around UK headquarters overseas, the software enables exercising personnel to immerse themselves in synthetic scenarios relayed from a wide range of sensor types.
Whether used to generate real-time, full-motion video and radar from a forward operating base or remotely-piloted air systems circling overhead, Virtual Battlespace’s richly detailed terrains contribute to an authentic training environment in which troops can conduct detailed ground reconnaissance, track time-sensitive targets and monitor a population’s pattern of life.
Since being initially employed in 2010, the simulation has been used as a key component of command, staff and tactical training exercises for six brigades deploying to Afghanistan. To add further realism, NSC has also integrated the Ministry of Defence’s operating software with the VBS-based ISTAR environment to allow students to train in a virtual scenario using real equipment.
Chris Williams, Head of Simulation at NSC, said the technology was helping the British Army make best use of a system originally introduced into service as an urgent operational requirement.
“The flexibility of Virtual Battlespace and NSC’s expertise in its utilisation has enabled us to deliver effective, value-for-money mission-specific training,” he added. “The Heavy and Medium Base ISTAR emulations offer a high degree of realism and the training opportunities they provide are not subject to the same constraints as a conventional exercise.
“Headquarters staff can interact with the whole spectrum of assets and capabilities under their command and control in theatre without the significant challenges and expense of deploying real aircraft, troops and civilians.
“Feeds from large UAVs, which cannot be flown in UK airspace, can be included in the training and event scenarios not possible to rehearse in a live situation – such as large explosions – can feature.
“Furthermore, the ability to alter variables, including the number of soldiers on the ground, the behaviour of enemy forces and general pattern of life, allows for scenarios with thousands of humanoid entities.”
To learn more about NSC, visit www.nsc.co.uk/
Photos courtesy of NSC.
Gallery Image Descriptions
Image 1: As well as ground-based static sensors, VBS was used to replicate unmanned aerial ISTAR sensors including DH3 and Watchkeeper. UAV behavior was automated using GIS-based user interface allowing tracks and orbits to be specified.
Image 2: VBS was used to generate over 50 full motion video feeds across a scenario containing over 2000 moving entities and 50km x 50km of operationally realistic terrain. Video feeds were controlled by ISTAR operators, and shared with Battlegroup HQ.
Image 3: ISTAR operators have full control over a configurable VBS2 generated sensor suite including local cameras, aerostat mounted persistent surveillance and dopplar radar.
Image 4: The virtual ISTAR feeds were also used to cost effectively augment live exercises where live UAV assets were unavailable.