Articles

Simulation and Mission Rehearsal Relies on State-of-the-art Computing

September 25, 2020

Published in Military & Aerospace Electronics
Written by JR Wilson

Simulation has been an integral part of military training since the first humans banded together, brandishing rocks and clubs, to defend against or attack other groups, probably between 12,000 and 15,000 years ago. Smaller, lighter sticks helped young warriors-in-training learn the basics before they tried using real weapons. Metal swords saw the introduction of wooden swords, just as wooden rifles helped recruits become familiar with firearms centuries later.

The 20th century’s great technological advances in weaponry, like airplanes and tanks, led to the introduction of more advanced, technology-based simulation, along with mission rehearsal exercises using combat radios and other devices, real and simulated, giving warfighters the opportunity to use those technologies, often for the first time, in a combat scenario.

Rapid advances throughout the last century, especially in computing speed and capabilities, improved real-time sensor data, significantly improved and individualized communications, long-range intelligence, and surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) were matched by equally advanced combat simulation and mission rehearsal. Before deployment to Southwest Asia, U.S. troops spent weeks at simulation-supported training bases in California, North Carolina, Louisiana, and other states.

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Simulation across the military

Simulation and mission rehearsal are not limited to weapons and platforms, but cover the entire spectrum of military activities — communications, logistics, tactical data links, and battlefield medicine — all of which must be part of any realistic training environment. Those at the heart of bringing emerging technologies out of the lab and onto the battlefield often disagree.

“AI is not ready for this field yet; it still has a long way to go before it becomes intelligent. There’s no room for guesswork when talking about tactical data links,” says Brian Bass, director of operational support at the Curtiss-Wright Corp. Tactical Communications Group segment in Tewksbury, Mass. Nonetheless, he says he sees a need and a future for AI as the technology matures. “In many of the scenarios in which we participate, our adversaries are cuffed — held to what we know about them. But they could do something different in reality.

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