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REPORT ON TRAINING & SIMULATION – The companies training Canada’s Armed Forces

REPORT ON TRAINING & SIMULATION – The companies training Canada’s Armed Forces

BY JAMES CARELESS

InVeris’ product line includes Virtual Reality simulation for armed forces

The Companies Driving Canada’s

T&S Industry

As many of our readers know, the September/October edition of CDR focuses on the training & simulation industry. After all, this edition of the magazine is distributed at the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference (I/ITSEC), the world’s largest modeling, simulation and training event held in Orlando on November 27th – December 1st, 2023. Readiness is the foundation of any armed force. There are many layers to the readiness process – including training & simulation. Unfortunately, training is often an early victim to budget cuts – something that is all too familiar in Canada’s defence sector. Despite that fact, there are several large-scale projects/programs that are driving Canada’s military training and simulation industry today. These include the Future Aircrew Training Program (FAcT); Land Vehicle Crew Training System (LVCTS); and the Weapons Effects Simulation Modernization (WESM) project, to name a few. For this year’s report CDR is spotlighting some of the key players and programs in this space.

: CAE is a leader in full flight simulators

FLYING HIGH WITH FAcT 

No report on Canada’s training and simulation industry is complete without a detailed look at what CAE is up to. CAE’s Defense & Security business unit is at the leading edge of digital innovation, providing training and mission support solutions across all operational domains – air, land, maritime, space and cyber. Currently, the most extensive training system in play is the Future Aircrew Training (FAcT) contract. Earlier this year in July, the Government of Canada identified SkyAlyne Canada Limited Partnership as the preferred bidder to provide a comprehensive aircrew training program to help maintain a multi-purpose and combat-capable air force. “It will lay the groundwork for technologies and processes that we hope to see implemented across the CAF,” said France Hébert, Vice President and General Manager Canada of CAE Defense & Security. “CAE is also executing and pursuing various other training and in-service support programs, such as the Fixed-Wing Search and Rescue training center, training modernization under the Cormorant Mid-Life Upgrade program and training services under the Canadian Surface Combatant program.” 

According to Hébert, “the primary growth drivers in the training and simulation market remain operational needs, coupled with the pace and range of new combat platforms and capabilities being introduced.” She added that the RCAF strategy prioritizes developing mission-ready and combat-capable forces to achieve operational excellence and mission readiness. To make this happen, “the RCAF expects to maximize the use of distributed synthetic and hybrid operational test and training environments to effectively enable a ‘think – test – tactics – train’ cycle at the speed of adversary threat relevance.” 

During I/ITSEC 2022 CAE and Elbit Systems officially confirmed their intention to pursue the LVCTS program together. CAE will act as the prime contractor and training system integrator, while Elbit will be the major subcontractor. The CAE-LVCTS system will allow the Canadian Army to train individual soldiers and the wider combat team while reducing the Army’s reliance on expensive and environmentally costly live vehicle driver and combat system training. 

The LVCTS project will see the delivery of a network connected-training system that replicates all crew stations within the Light Armoured Vehicle 6.0, the Leopard 2 Main Battle Tank and the Tactical Armoured Patrol Vehicle. 

Going forward, CAE sees an “ongoing demand on industry to demonstrate commitment to innovation” said Hébert. This is reflected in Canada by the federal government’s significant investments in all three services, which “paves the way for modern, world-class training technologies and methodologies.” 

For more on information on CAE Defence & Security, turn to page 44.

CONVENTIONAL WARFIGHTING TRAINING 

Calian provides military training and simulation to the Canadian Armed Forces, NATO and NATO member countries. “We design, develop and deliver exercises that range from small teams up to large, complex exercises for the collective training of high-readiness units,” said Jay Ballard, Calian’s Military Training and Simulation Lead. “We combine a deep bench of experienced training experts and operators with a mix of proprietary and off-the-shelf products to deliver the right military training experience to meet the audience’s needs.” The company has two main tools for constructive simulation: MaestroEDE (an exercise design, development and delivery tool now enhanced with an AI and LLM-enabled assistant) and VCCI (which simulates integrated battle management C2 system and combat net radio). 

Recent military conflicts have “accelerated the demand for conventional warfighting training,” Ballard noted. “After twenty-plus years of focus on counterinsurgency and small wars, training customers are looking for complex exercises that include conventional manoeuvre forces and greater focus on logistics, air superiority and the information domain — on shorter timelines.”            

At the same time, Calian’s defence clients are coping with “personnel attrition in many western militaries, and a growing need for agility and versatility in training,” Ballard told CDR. “As well, many militaries are experiencing challenges achieving recruiting goals, with impacts across the joint force on staffing levels and priorities. Deployable, operational units remain the priority for staffing, leaving many training organizations understaffed and in need of personnel and capacity support.” 

This is why the CAF and its NATO partners are looking to companies like Calian to deliver complex exercises faster, with more participants, and with greater technology-enablement. To this end, “Calian’s AI and LLM-enabled tools have been very effective at reducing the time required to develop exercises,” Ballard said. “Our system-agnostic approach has allowed us to connect a wide range of exercise players. Customers appreciate that flexibility – both in the rapid development of exercises and in the integration of all the necessary players, into a common synthetic training environment.” 

As for the future? To help Calian support the CAF more effectively, the federal government needs “to clarify their vision for CAF reconstitution, establish clear priorities, and engage in dialogue with industry and speed up acquisition programs,” said Ballard. “Establishing dialogue with the industry would help create some mutual understanding on military training needs, and would show the government what the industry can do now and what the ‘art-of-the-possible’ looks like in the near term.”

SPEEDING UP THE CERTIFICATION PROCESS 

Certification Center Canada (3C)’s website describes them as being “an independent flight test, research, development and certification center providing a wide range of services to the aerospace community in Canada and around the world.” 

3C is also involved with airworthiness certification, providing a “centralized resource with consultation, management, tools, and methods to undertake civil and military aerospace projects,” said Alistair Chapman, 3C’s Director of Marketing. The company “helps customers find solutions to how new technologies will be specified, designed, developed, integrated, evaluated, tested, certified and showcased.” 

Today, 3C is working on the concept of ‘Certification by Analysis’ (CbA) — trying to reduce the amount of flight testing required to create high fidelity simulator models and perform aircraft airworthiness approval. As well, “we are actively involved in multiple large collaborative R&D projects related to reduced emission aircraft propulsion, and on RPAS [remotely piloted aircraft system] icing flight testing,” he said. 

While 3C is not in the military training market directly, their work allows them to draw informed conclusions about this sector’s needs from the outside. “We see a clear demand and need for more CbA solutions to enable streamlined development of both simulators and software integration labs to make it easier to develop and evolve new aircraft concepts,” said Chapman. “This applies equally to both defence and civil markets.” 

3C could assist the military sector if asked, he noted. The reason? “Our extensive flight test and airworthiness capacity could significantly augment DND’s own internal ability to effectively handle the upcoming bow wave of programs requiring airworthiness approvals,” Chapman told CDR. 

Overall, “Canada is a global leader in this sector so the outlook is wonderful,” said Chapman. But he cautions that “DND procurement [needs] to favour Canadian designed and produced capabilities”. He says this “is more urgent today than it has ever been before. The government must find a way to ensure a viable and vibrant local supply chain.” 

HARNESSING TECHNOLOGY FOR WEAPONS TRAINING 

InVeris Training Solutions provides technology-driven training solutions for defence forces and law enforcement agencies. “The use of live fire and virtual weapons training systems have been proven to improve speed, accuracy, judgment in the use of force, and overall combat ability while reducing training time, logistics, and cost,” said John Scarlata, Business Unit Manager at InVeris Training Solutions Canada. The company’s product line includes screen-based simulation systems offering a field of view up to 300 degrees, Virtual Reality (VR) simulation, Augmented Reality (AR) simulation and Reconfigurable Desktop Trainers (RDT) for Armoured Fighting Vehicles (AFVs). 

At present, “we are seeking to obtain a renewal of the In-Service-Support (ISS) contract agreement to support the CAF training programs on small arms trainers procured from InVeris,” Scarlata told CDR. “We are also looking into the Land Vehicle Crew Training System (LVCTS) project. The Land Vehicle Crew Training System project will deliver a training system, connected by a network, and housed in purpose-built facilities, to enable crews of the principle armoured combat vehicles to train as realistically as possible at their home garrison locations.” 

Referring to the rapidly improving technology that fuels CGI in movies and games, InVeris sees “opportunities in upgrading simulation training systems accordingly,” said Scarlata. “Additionally, we see opportunities in providing simulation systems adapted to unmanned military machines. There will also be opportunities in incorporating Artificial Intelligence capabilities to training systems where instructors will no longer be exclusively human but digitally engineered personalities.” 

Looking ahead, future sales opportunities in military training and simulation systems will be driven by the shift to simultaneous multi-theatre warfare. “Over the next 20 years, the face of global military conflict will rapidly change,” Scarlata told CDR. “Troops will fight simultaneous battles on the ground, in the air, at sea, in space and in the cyber realm, against adversaries that may be human or, increasingly, machine.” This, in turn will “drive the need for training technologies.”

: Modest Tree’s Tech Companion is a digital solution to support the maintenance of complex equipment

INNOVATION IS KEY 

Founded in 2011, Modest Tree specializes in training and operational solutions for complex equipment used in sectors ranging from defence and aerospace to industrial manufacturing.   

What Modest Tree does is digitize reality for training purposes. They can create real-life situations in VR and then use that to create training simulations to teach the best responses to those situations. 

“With over a decade of experience under our belt, we’re no strangers to innovation,” said CEO Emily Smits. “Live and virtual training at the squad or crew or sub-unit level is very valuable for individual and small teams’ skills development. Western armies are faced with very different operating environments today compared to the last twenty years of armed conflict, so focussing on realistic training from headquarters to the front line is a major opportunity.” 

Remote learning and training are essential to this 21st century process. Today, “militaries don’t need to send their personnel to a training base for months – away from family – as often or for as long anymore with remote delivery technologies,” Smits said. “Delivering training to existing garrisons using remote technology is a game-changer that connects hundreds of exercise participants into common training environments.” 

It also means taking a more focussed approach “that can be a more efficient adult-learning technique,” she continued. “Any digitally-based learning solution produces a lot of data. That data becomes part of the after-action review process. Doing comprehensive after-action reviews is a major accelerator to training because it shows trainees where they have developed skills and where they need more practice.” 

It is fair to say that Modest Tree has been stepping up to the challenges associated with technology-based training. A case in point: “In collaboration with Canada’s Ocean Supercluster, we’ve been able to stretch our capabilities even further, introducing Tech Companion — a groundbreaking digital solution that streamlines the operation and maintenance of complex equipment,” said Smits. “Last year, we soft-launched Tech Companion to a select group of partners in the oil and gas industry as well as Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) globally. The results were staggering: We saved our early adopters multiple millions of dollars by centralizing their maintenance activities and significantly improving efficiency.”

TRAINING THROUGH TARGETS 

QinetiQ Target Systems (QTS) provides uncrewed air, land, and surface targets for live-fire training, testing, and evaluation through products such as its Banshee UAV system. “We have been delivering end-to-end solutions for over 40 years,” said Jules Werner, the company’s Business Development Director. “QTS focuses on execution excellence, mission-led innovation, and capability.” 

Werner attributes QTS’ decades of training success to the company’s constant attention to customer needs. “We consistently evaluate the market to ensure our products meet the demands and trends of the ever-changing defence landscape,” he said. “Looking to the skies, our Banshee Jet 80+ leads the way as one of the most cost-effective UAVs on the market. With a variety of payload options mimicking various threats, its versatility continues to attract demand across existing customers and new business worldwide. On the water, our flagship product for maritime defence is the Hammerhead. Well regarded in the market, it remains ever-popular amongst our customers with sea-based deployment and naval training requirements.” 

Over the years, QTS’ target systems have been used in various training exercises by the Royal Canadian Navy and the Royal Canadian Air Force. “These [exercises] include Trident Fury on the West Coast of Canada, and Cutlass Fury Multinational on the East Coast,” said Werner. “Building upon the RCN and RCAF’s already impressive defence display, the Cutlass Fury exercise also included, for the first time, an aerial target launch from a third Canadian Arctic Offshore Patrol Ship (AOPS), the HMCS Max Bernays.” 

Going forward, QinetiQ Target Systems is exploring opportunities to apply the “advanced technology in our control systems” in “completely new, or emerging markets,” Werner said. “As seen at DSEI this year, pushing limits in autonomous systems through uncrewed launch platforms is the driving force in the market at present. Our pioneering new venture, Jackdaw, was unveiled at this year’s show in partnership with BAE Systems. Jackdaw is an industry-leading concept, allowing customers to launch multiple UAVs from a larger vessel mid-flight with the added benefit of reducing the requirement for human operation.”

FORC3 FOR CANADIAN FORCES 

Another company targeting Canada’s LVCTS program is Rheinmetall Canada. Rheinmetall Canada leads a team known as FORC3, which includes Lockheed Martin Canada, Rheinmetall Electronics (Bremen, Germany) and Lockheed Martin Training and Logistics Solutions out of Orlando. 

Pietro Mazzei, Vice President, Rheinmetall Canada, explains, “The name FORC3 is all about promoting a partnership between Rheinmetall, Lockheed Martin, and the Department of National Defence (DND), united through excellence to enable training for adaptive dispersed operations.” FORC3, which the company emphasizes is a partnership between Rheinmetall, Lockheed Martin, and DND, has secured the domestic capabilities to build and operate five state-of-the-art LVCTS simulation centres across the country. These proposed simulation centers are expected to generate jobs and will also see the inclusion of Aboriginal businesses in its supply chains. 

In addition to the above-named principals, the team also includes the ADGA Group, Bluedrop Training and Simulation, EllisDon Construction and Building Services, Paladin AI, and REDspace Incorporated. 

The partnership agreement was first revealed in June 2020. According to Rheinmetall, the partnership unites experts in the fields of design, development, and implementation of combat vehicle virtual simulation centres.

REALISTIC TRAINING 

Saab is a leading defence and security company with a broad portfolio including aircraft, submarines, weapons, sensors, and training solutions. Headquartered in Sweden, Saab has been serving customers in Canada for more than 30 years. 

Saab is currently providing training and simulation in over 40 countries. Their client list includes the Netherlands Army, the U.S. Marine Corps, Australia, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Poland and Germany to name a few. Within Canada, “we are also a training provider for the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and the Parliamentary Protective Service,” said Vera Reifenstein, Director of Marketing and Sales for Saab Canada. 

At present, Saab is targeting the contract for Canada’s Weapons Effects Simulation Modernization (WESM) project, which will upgrade or replace the current hardware and software used by the Weapons Effects Simulation (WES) systems at Canadian Army Bases. According to Reifenstein, “Saab’s GAMER system is perfectly positioned to satisfy the requirements of the WESM project. It has multiple communication configurations which enable interoperability between forces when performing joint exercises. The Manpack, or man-portable version of the system, is a small unit training tool that can host up to 300 soldiers and/or vehicles, and provides functionality which is almost identical to a full-scale Combat Training Centre (CTC).” 

The WESM project encompasses 5 “sub-projects” which include Vehicle Systems; Soldier Systems; Tactical Aviation; Exercise Control/Data Communication Network; and Physical Framework. The WESM project is currently in the Options Analysis phase and is expected to enter the Definition phase in 2027/2028. 

In other news, “Canada has committed to the purchase of Saab Carl Gustaf M4 weapons systems, where there exists an opportunity for virtual training products to support the integration within the Canadian Army,” she added. “Our Carl Gustaf simulators would allow for increased training with the new equipment in a cost-effective manner.” 

Saab prides itself on providing the most realistic training products to its clients, along with immediate feedback and detailed evaluations so that trainees can be properly prepared for their missions. “We put the experience of the individual at the centre of training operations,” said Reifenstein. “Our training offering is scalable, interoperable with multi-national partners and deployable – providing customers the best preparation for real operations where lives are at risk.” 

This company also promotes interoperability amongst its military customers through a common product platform and standardized interfaces that allow international forces to train together. “For example, Saab’s training solution is used for Northern Wind, an exercise with more than 10,000 attendees from Sweden, Finland, Norway, the United States and the United Kingdom, and most recently Aurora in 2023 that saw 24,000 participants from 15 nations participate in a three-week long event,” Reifenstein told CDR.

PILOT TRAINING 

The success of SkyAlyne in becoming the preferred bidder for the RCAF’s Future Aircrew Training program (FAcT) is a significant victory for the company’s partners, CAE and KF Aerospace. They are “two Canadian aerospace and defence leaders with deep roots and expertise in training and simulation, and in-service support,” said Matt Stone, SkyAlyne’s User Experience & Communication Lead. 

CAE has led contracted training and support for the RCAF through NATO Contracted Flying and Training (NFTC) program since 2015. KF Aerospace was awarded the RCAF’s Contracted Flying Training and Support (CFTS) Program contract in 2005, leading a group of subcontractors collectively called Allied Wings to fulfill the contract. 

According to Stone, the FAcT contract is expected to be awarded sometime in 2024, following Treasury Board approval. “The work will begin immediately after the contract is awarded,” he said. Once in motion, FAcT “will cover all aspects of the required aircrew training, including pilots, air combat systems officers (ACSO), airborne electronic sensor operators (AES Op) training, and maintenance and infrastructure services, for a period of more than 20 years.” said Stone. 

Fortunately, “SkyAlyne is ready to hit the ground running” he said. They have teams of experts already in place operating Canada’s two current military pilot training programs that will be folded into FAcT.       

Keep an eye out for a detailed report on I/ITSEC 2023 in the next edition of CDR.

James Careless is CDR’s Ottawa Bureau Chief           

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