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Photos: Top Gun goes virtual

Maverick never had it this good...<br /><br />
By Tim Ferguson, Contributor on
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1 of 5 Tim Ferguson/ZDNET

Maverick never had it this good...

Virtual worlds are all the rage at the moment for businesses and consumers but they also have the potential to be used in the military sphere too.

The RAF is testing a new simulator using technology that will eventually allow RAF and US Air Force pilots to train together in the same virtual training environment.

This is the view from one of the simulators currently being tested by frontline pilots at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire.

Photo credit: MoD

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2 of 5 Tim Ferguson/ZDNET

The tech is being developed by Team Active (aircrew collective training through immersive virtual events) which is led by Qinetiq and includes, among others, Boeing.

The Mission Training through Distributed Simulation (MTDS) programme has developed the Capability Concept Demonstrator in which pilots in different locations can simultaneously take part in simulated missions.

This demonstration version is part of the 30 month, £7.8m project and will play host to several test events over the coming months to establish the real benefits of the tech for the military.

This is what the simulators currently being tested at RAF Waddington look like from the outside.

Photo credit: MoD

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3 of 5 Tim Ferguson/ZDNET

The simulated missions are linked to exercise management, planning, briefing and debriefing systems. Here one of the missions is being analysed by the team at RAF Waddington.

The tests will eventually run simulations for pilots on both sides of the Atlantic who will take part in the same 'multi-craft combat scenarios'.

Future use of the system could include training, research, technology assessment and demonstration of new equipment.

Photo credit: MoD

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A tester tries the technology for size before going into the full simulator environment.

The simulators at RAF Waddington include four Tornado GR4 and four Typhoon cockpits along with a seven seat Airborne Warning and Control System simulator.

The system can also be linked to training simulators for Apache helicopters and other US Air Force aircraft - such as F-16s and A10s - at its research labs in Mesa, Arizona.

Land-based military vehicles can also be included in a multi-player simulation.

Photo credit: MoD

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5 of 5 Tim Ferguson/ZDNET

Neville Salkeld, MD of QinetiQ's MoD support business said the facility at Waddington demonstrates how mature technology can be used to improve military effectiveness.

The development team is hoping to improve the capability of the simulator over the next few months as the test events are completed.

According to the MoD, government negotiations are ongoing about linking the UK facility with the US Airforce's Distributed Mission Operations network.

Photo credit: MoD

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