Lockheed Martin Australia and the Commonwealth have signed a contract to deliver a networked simulation system under Project JP 9711 Phase 1.
The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has enthusiastically embraced simulation for advanced training – there are sims for training RAAF jet pilots and aircrew, for the bridges of warships and to train tank crews.
But the capability to link those different sims together to perform joint training is limited, with no more than 10 joint simulation exercises able to be conducted each year.
That’s all set to change through JP 9711 Phase 1 which will create a core simulation capability for the ADF, linking the various sims across Australia and those of allies.
When fully operational in 2025, this will enable more than 200 joint simulation exercises to be conducted each year, ranging from small scale exercises conducted at short notice to a repeat of the major biennial Talisman Sabre in cyberspace.
Through this $897 million contract, Lockheed Martin will partner with Calytrix Technologies and NEC Australia. This will create about 100 jobs in Canberra, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth.
“This investment will absolutely transform how the ADF trains and develops future generations of defence personnel to ensure we are providing them with the training tools they need to succeed in their missions,” Defence Industry Minister Linda Reynolds said in a statement.
The Minister said the increasingly complexity of defence operations meant there was a growing need for service personnel to conduct realistic high-end warfighting training.
“The fact is that defence can simply no longer meet those requirements solely by the traditionally training. It is progressively utilising simulation to meet this demand.
“What this (JP9711) will provide is the ability for our men and women to practice and rehearse these operations. It will assist us in writing better joint exercises and operations, conduct and also do post-activity reports and lessons learned.
“The core simulation incudes the backbone of electronic systems, communications infrastructure, software and personnel and it will support the use of simulation in ADF training and also on exercises.
“This backbone will be integrated within existing Defence enterprise, information and ICT networks.”
Chief of Joint Capabilities AIRMSHL Warren McDonald said the world was complex and a lot of complex equipment was entering service. “To truly understand how that complexity works in the environment we need to simulate it. Long gone are the day of people moving things around on a board.”
AIRMSHL McDonald said the aim of this kind of training was to get defence personnel into the right mindset, with their brains ahead of where their body or their capability will be. “That is really important. If we don’t do that we will be at a deficit when the time comes.”
This project originated a decade ago but with a much more limited vision, to simply facilitate joint naval simulation training. But then Chief of Defence Force (and Governor General designate) GEN (ret) David Hurley said it should be a joint project to facilitate conduct of joint Army, Navy and Air Force simulations by way of a central core.
Defence’s current joint simulation capability is managed by the Australian Defence Simulation Training Centre in Canberra, part of the Joint Operations Command (JOC). Under these current arrangements, it has proved unable to meet the growing demand for simulation support for collective training.
But AIRMSHL McDonald said this wasn’t scalable, activities aren’t repeatable, and it didn’t collect the necessary data.
It is proposed that the new system will support 50 joint simulation training events per year by December 2020, rising to 210 supported events per year when it reaches final operating capability (FOC) in 2025.
Lockheed Martin Australia chief executive Vince Di Pietro said this system was to be the centre of mass of everything to do with defence simulation, and that 5th generation capabilities such as the F-35 and Aegis combat system meant Australia had one of the most modern defence forces in the world.
“JP9711 will transform the ADF’s approach to training and simulation, ensuring the latest technologies are used to best prepare our service personnel for the complexity and challenges of the future,” he said.
“The men and women in uniforms are going to be able to see and practice all the things we expect them to do in real time down the track in a virtual world.”
This project will involve both US and Australian technology. Canberra-based Calytrix had been involved in the ADF’s current simulation capability since 2006.
Lockheed Martin training and logistics solutions vice-president Amy Growder said the company’s Distributed Mission Training capability integrated live, virtual and constructive entities into a shared training environment.
That means a simulation could involve real platforms such as ships or aircraft, virtual capabilities such as personnel in simulators and constructive entities, such as computer-generated enemy forces.