The South African Navy (SAN) is developing a master plan for the use of simulators, with the SAN Simulation Workgroup hosting a Navy/industry symposium in Simon’s town on Tuesday.
Simulation-based training has long been used by the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) to reduce the cost of training and increase user skills and experience. While the S A Army and Air Force already have substantial experience in battlefield and training simulation, the SAN has not been lax either, with submariners leading the way.
Opening the symposium, Rear Admiral Hanno Teuteberg, Chief Director Maritime Strategy, noted “the enemy often has better equipment and intelligence than us, but the difference is in our training. We should give our kids the unfair advantage of being excellently trained”.
While gaining real-life experience traditionally took 20 to 30 years, Teuteberg expressed the view there is a need to compress training to gain the necessary knowledge and experience in a far shorter time.
Captain (SAN) Chris Manig, a member of the SAN Simulation Workgroup, noted the use of simulators was gaining increased importance within the Navy, “where running costs are going up and budgets are going down”.
The Workgroup has been tasked with formulating a policy for the use of simulators in the Navy, including the development of a Master Plan. The end result will be the effective use of simulation to achieve and maintain operational capability at the highest level in a reduced time.
The Navy realises they have very few experts in the service with experience in simulation architecture and programing, thus the need for industry involvement. In addition to these benefits, Captain (Navy) Andre de Wet observed the Navy cannot make use of commercial maritime simulators as they lacked the capabilities and equipment specific to naval vessels, such as warfare, replenishment at sea, close manoeuvring and weapon specific systems.
The submarine flotilla already use of various simulators, such as the Engineering Test Bed (incorporating the Periscope Simulator) provided by Cybicom Atlas Defence; Submarine Control Simulator; the Mobile Combat Information Centre Simulator; the Submarine Escape Training Tower; a Torpedo Counter-Measure Launcher simulator as well as computer based training and scale models.
The Warfare School also makes use of the frigate Combat Team Trainer, the Wildcat tactical trainer, the Radsim radar trainer, the Land Based Training System and various firearm, fire fighting and damage control trainers.
Demonstrating the value the Navy is deriving from its simulators, de Wet said the Submarine Control Simulator was at the heart of submarine training in the SAN. This simulator was running two shifts a day until 10pm every night.
A thorough needs analysis is being conducted, detailing urgent and further needs requirements. Included in the urgent requirement are Ship’s Bridge and Flight Deck simulators, for which Cybicom has also built and demonstrated prototypes.
Both local and international speakers spoke of the benefits of simulator training and provided an overview of products and future developments. A common theme among speakers was the need to link and network the various sub-system simulators to provide total platform training.
A new development is the incorporation of first-person shooter engines from the gaming industry, allowing for accurate 3D representation of the ship with detailed walk-through and work-flow.
Simulators are not only used for training, but also for acquisition support, forecasting, planning, etc.
As noted by presenters, the provision of advanced, networked simulators is not dependent on technology, but based on what the organisation requires.
While the Navy has clearly identified the need for and the will to acquire advanced simulators, the final implementation will be dependent on budgetary constraints.