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Interactive training support for Royal Engineers

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: 13 December, 2012  (Application Story)
The UK's Royal Engineers are to receive specialist interactive training support from Thales on the Talisman Training System
Interactive training support for Royal Engineers

Thales UK has delivered an interactive training solution, known as the Thales Talisman Training System (T3S), which dramatically improves the effectiveness of pre-deployment training by British Army teams preparing to use the Talisman system in support of Combat Logistic Patrols in Afghanistan.

Talisman, for which Thales is also the Mission Systems Design Authority, consists of manned and unmanned vehicles operating together as a system to investigate threats such as mines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) on military supply routes in theatre.

Within four months of contract award, the first training course using T3S was delivered to the Royal Engineers, the operators of Talisman. In that period, Thales designed, procured, built, tested, de-commissioned, transported and re-commissioned an entire Talisman troop training facility, including six representative vehicle bays complete with ‘out-of-the-window’ views and control systems, 30 operator workstations, communications systems and after-action review facilities. To date, Thales has delivered three further training exercises at locations in the UK and Germany.

T3S was developed using Thales’s Directed-Fidelity® concept, in which an end-to-end customised training solution is developed together with the customer. T3S was designed specifically to improve crew interaction and to practice tactics, techniques and procedures – ensuring enhanced operational readiness while offering value for money to the customer.

T3S can incorporate operational experience gained in theatre to continually evolve. Introducing new threats and testing responses enables the entire troop to rehearse complex missions in synthetic environments and to familiarise themselves with real scenarios, bridging the gap between individual equipment-oriented training and live collective training.

T3S comprises over 180 PCs and 70 displays operated using gaming controls. It runs a simulation based on the VBS2 gaming engine within a synthetic wrap derived from Thales’s open Generic Vehicle Architecture (GVA) and Vetronics Infrastructure for Video over Ethernet (VIVOE) developments. T3S simulates scenarios that would not be possible in live training, such as incoming fire, combined arms actions, extreme weather, day/night operations, joint Afghan National Army operations and local population movements. Thus, the system significantly enhances readiness for final pre-deployment field training.

Major Chris Eyre, Officer Commanding TTAT, said: “Using the new training system, ‘what if’ situations can be played out and later analysed to help improve operational effectiveness and develop new tactics. By simulating different scenarios, introducing new threats and testing responses, the crew members rapidly become familiar with operating as a team, while the Command Team acquires a better understanding of the behaviours that affect the interaction between the platforms and the strengths of individual team members. The result is a much higher state of readiness for operations, prior to deployment.

“Another welcome benefit of the system is that it can be deployed easily; it is designed for use in barracks, so we have seen Far less disruption to the domestic lives of the troops prior to deployment on operations.”

The training courses are delivered by the MOD’s Talisman Training Advisory Team (TTAT). For each pre-deployment course, Thales supplies all the hardware and software, installs the system and then provides technical oversight and support to the training. This involves maintaining the T3S equipment and supporting exercise control (EXCON) during exercises and after-action reviews.

Alex Cresswell, vice president of Thales UK's land defence business, said: “Complementary to training using real equipment, T3S provides the Royal Engineers with the ability to exercise tactics, techniques and procedures in a classroom environment that is low risk, low cost, and highly controllable.

“We are in discussions with a number of other customers about how similar concepts based on the T3S solution could be used to support their collective training requirements, for example in combined arms and reconnaissance training, especially where optimal team interaction is crucial.”

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