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TMCNet:  MetaVR VRSG Provides Visuals for JTAC Simulation

[July 11, 2012]

MetaVR VRSG Provides Visuals for JTAC Simulation

(ENP Newswire Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) ENP Newswire - 11 July 2012 Release date- 10072012 - Recently, the Joint Fire Support Executive Steering Committee accredited the capability of the MetaVR and Battlespace Simulations JTAC simulator for types 1, 2, 3, day/night control, and laser target designation.

Earlier this year, the US Air Combat Command (ACC) started fielding MetaVR visuals in JTAC-TACP/Operational Simulation Suite (J-T/OSS) systems used for JTAC training. The US Air Force's Distributed Mission Operations Center (DMOC) at Kirtland Air Force Base (AFB), which has used MetaVR Virtual Reality Scenario Generator (VRSG) for Distributed Mission Operations (DMO) exercises since 1997, received 17 new VRSG licenses and computers for use in J-T/OSS. The J-T/OSS is used for Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTAC) training. The J-T/OSS is being fielded as an interim solution for the Joint Terminal Control Training and Rehearsal System (JTC TRS). Eleven (11) of the VRSG licenses will be installed at several Air Support Operations Squadron (ASOS) sites. VRSG is already used in various configurations at approximately 30 ASOS sites in the US and overseas to simulate the functionality needed for JTAC warfighter training in close air support (CAS) exercises, ranging from desktop to dome systems.

In the fielded J-T/OSS, VRSG, used in its first person shooter designator mode, populates the JTAC coordinate location field critical to the functionality of the integrated Tactical Air Control Party Close Air Support System (TACP-CASS) component of J-T/OSS. Built on the FalconView PC-based mapping application, the TACP CASS connects to the DMO network, which facilitates messaging between JTACs from one TACP CASS to another. As the TACP CASS moving map system displays a 2D map of the same area of geospecific terrain that VRSG renders in 3D, the two applications work together seamlessly.

Also in the J-T/OSS, VRSG is used in a UAV regeneration station, for networked environments that do not have the bandwidth to handle the streaming MPEG of the VRSG-simulated UAV camera payload video directly. The regeneration station is a computer that uses Multiple Unified Simulation Environment (MUSE) UAV telemetry to capture the streaming video in the form of data packets over low bandwidth networks. The data packets, in turn, are regenerated as video and streamed to a ROVER device.

VRSG rendering of an A-10 entity flying over MetaVR's virtual Afghanistan. Inset image is of the JTAC TRS prototype at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, using MetaVR VRSG software. Inside the dome, the trainee is using M-22 binoculars, Mark VII laser ranger finder, and Ground Laser Target Designator (GLTD) II simulated military equipment by Minerva Engineering.

In 2011, MetaVR participated in an AFSOC JTAC Simulator Comparison flyoff at Hurlbert Field, FL. MetaVR VRSG scored the best among the participating simulators for meeting the requirements for an AFSOC JTAC simulator.

The ACC has approved VRSG as a system that trainees can use to complete JTAC simulator-based terminal attack control requirements. With this approval, issued in 2009, the training hours JTACs spend using VRSG contribute to approved simulator training credits for terminal attack control requirements. * Also in 2009 the Air National Guard JTACs developed their own desktop close air support training simulators in which soldiers use MetaVR VRSG in a first person shooter mode with a gamepad as the navigation device. Working in the JTAC mode of VRSG's First Person Simulator (FPS), a trainee sees targeting and designating symbology similar to what the operator would see in a range finder or laser designator.

Collaborating with other players in a simulated close air support (CAS) exercise through the Distributed Training Operations Center (DTOC) for Distributed Mission Operations, while using the MetaVR software's game-like interface, a JTAC trainee at the desktop can simulate walking and using binoculars and designator devices, while interacting and communicating with others such as a pilot via a simulated radio over the network. The JTAC trainee views a UAV feed provided by VRSG through a ROVER, while locating common reference points for carrying out a mission and laser designating a target. The STANAG 4096-compliant EG 0601.1 and MISB 0104.5 metadata encoding in the VRSG real-time video stream stimulates the fielded ROVER hardware as if it was receiving telemetry from a real ISR asset such as a UAV.

A JTAC trainee running MetaVR VRSG and Afghanistan database (on the middle computer). On the left is a ROVER IV, and on the right is Falcon View map of the same area. On the desk are ASTI handheld terminals that simulate radios on a VOIP network. The ROVER feed is from a second VRSG session which is regenerating UAV payload information locally from the DTOC, and then streams the VRSG real-time MPEG feed to the ROVER.

Trainees can call out target coordinates through a voice interface on a simulated radio over the network. VRSG also transmits a laser designator protocol data unit in DIS format that can be read by other simulators on the network to simulate a digital hand-off of coordinates. The service-developed Air National Guard JTAC simulator it helped provide the basis for the approval by ACC to allow MetaVR software to be used for simulated JTAC training.

MetaVR's Afghanistan virtual terrain, shown in several images on this page, is optimized for ground attack training missions in JTAC simulation, such as A-10 missions.

VRSG real-time screen capture of a third-person view of the desktop-based JTAC simulation acting as a first person shooter on MetaVR's Afghanistan database. Inset image shows what the trainee sees from the desktop. This is the same view (with laser code and compass rose) as seen from inside the JTAC TRS dome; the desktop and dome simulators produce the same designator view.

Using subject matter experts, the DTOC develops and maintains a series of training scenarios that create simulated threats on the network for the Air National Guard sites. It also creates a Multiple Unified Simulation Environment/Air Force Synthetic Environment for Reconnaissance and Surveillance (MUSE/AFSERS) simulated UAV camera video feed that the Air National Guard uses to jointly simulate a close air support mission on geospecific terrain that correlates across both facilities' simulation applications. The JTAC simulations are fully interoperable with the A-10 Full Mission Trainers, F-16 Air National Guard simulators, the MUSE/AFSERS program, and the Army National Guard TUAV trainers, as well as others.

In 2009 MetaVR developed with Immersive Display Solutions a transportable JTAC Immersive system, which provides a low-cost transportable dome solution to meet the needs of JTAC simulation training in an affordable immersive environment beyond the desktop. The JTAC Immersive System is a series of small form factor transportable 3-meter and 5-meter diameter fabric hemispherical display systems that provides 220-degree horizontal field-of-view (FOV) and 90-degree vertical or 145-degree vertical FOV of simulated geospecific real-time 3D terrain.

While conducting a network training exercise with this system, trainees can connect a ROVER-like device with a simulated MetaVR VRSG-based UAV feed, connect to a second computer running FalconView, switch to VRSG's First Person Simulator with a simulated hand-held laser designator, and communicate a target walk on with pilot trainees in an A-10 full mission trainer or the JTAC pilot station with VOIP handheld terminals that simulate radios.

The JTAC Immersive System running MetaVR VRSG and MetaVR's geospecific Afghanistan virtual terrain. On the tripod is the NVIS Virtual Monocular SX handheld display system. To the left of the tripod is the rack cabinet that houses the PC-IG channels.

The Grayling Air Gunnery Range uses one of these dome systems for JTAC simulation in conjunction with the Human Effectiveness Directorate studies on JTAC simulator training. Each year, the Grayling Range trains more than 200 JTACs and Joint Fires Observers from the Air Force, Army, Navy, Marines and coalition nations using live and simulated training.

The image to the right shows the partial dome used for JTAC simulation training at the Grayling Air Gunnery Range in Alpena, MI. This setup uses 5 VRSG visual channels. The dome has a 4-meter spherical screen that gives a JTAC trainee a 160- to 170-degree horizontal field of view.

In July 2011 the Grayling Range installed Battlespace Simulations' Modern Air Combat Environment (MACE) to provide computer-generated forces and a manned pilot station for its JTAC training. MACE is a DIS-enabled threat environment capable of generating a wide variety of semi-autonomous forces. VRSG generates the 3D visuals in MACE. At the Grayling Range, the two MACE licenses from Battlespace Simulations (BSI) are used to create contested environments for their JTAC training mission.

Joint combat air support training on the JTAC virtual training dome at the Grayling Air Gunnery Range in Alpena, MI.

MACE can simulate an entire Integrated Air Defense System and/or provide constructive blue forces, and includes both Call-for-Fire (CFF) and 9-Line interfaces for rapidly assignment of constructive entities to CFF/CAS roles within the distributed simulation. Users can also take control over constructive aircraft and fly them with a pilot-in-the-loop using MACE's HUD overlay for VRSG. Together, BSI MACE and MetaVR VRSG provide standalone CAS training.

The Grayling Range is a testbed for the Air Force Research Laboratory, 711th Human Performance Wing, Human Effectiveness Directorate's Warfighter Readiness Research Division in Mesa, AZ, which has installed the JTAC dome at Grayling to study training using live controls versus training that incorporates both live controls and simulation.

Among other technologies used for JTAC training is the JTAC TRS prototype with its virtual trainer dome. The dome environment provides the JTAC operator with a fully immersive simulation that attempts to replicate what the soldier will see with the unaided eye in the real world. All visual cues that the trainee would see in the real world are simulated in the dome.

Operator inside the JTAC TRS prototype , looking through a simulated laser designator. Image courtesy of AFRL Mesa.

VRSG real-time screen capture of a scene on MetaVR's virtual Afghanistan, which the operator on the left sees when looking through the simulated laser designator with embedded 3D graphics hardware. With information such as the laser code, the target location, and the compass rose, this view is the same view as seen in the FPS desktop-based JTAC simulator. The desktop and dome simulators produce the same designator view. Click the image to see an enlarged version.

The JTAC TRS prototype, developed at AFRL in Mesa, provides a high-fidelity, fully immersive, realistic training and rehearsal environment with real-time sensor, simulator, and database correlation. Its primary focus is to provide a persistent total air-ground virtual training environment for networked air/ground training and mission rehearsals. This prototype system is used to train both JTAC and combat air crews assigned to accomplish complex missions in close proximity to ground forces. The JTAC TRS prototype connects to distributed mission operations networks to enable geographically separated high-fidelity close air support platforms and JTAC and CCT teams to train together. Additionally, the JTAC TRS enables operators to conduct Joint Close Air Support (JCAS) training and mission rehearsal using tailored, dynamic scenarios that are relevant to mission tasking.

Using MetaVR's visualization software, the JTAC TRS prototype simulator, at the Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) in Mesa, Arizona. Inset image shows a view from outside a 360-degree field-of-view dome. Images courtesy of Air Force Research Lab (AFRL), Mesa Research Lab.

The JTAC TRS protoype, built by Lockheed Martin, uses 19 VRSG channels, 14 of which are for the dome itself. There are 7 VRSG channels for 360-degrees around the bottom half of the dome, and another 7 channels for the top half of the dome. The remaining VRSG channels are used for various emulated hand-held command and control (C2) devices inside the dome (binoculars, laser range finders, and so on), a sound channel, and a single AAR/stealth channel. The simulator is a high fidelity, realistic, fully immersive, real-time visual environment with sensor, simulator, and database correlation. The DIS/HLA compliant system interoperates with legacy systems and provides the capability to network with other air and ground simulators, including simulators of the A-10 program.

The information on this web page is not an endorsement by the Air Combat Command or the Air National Guard of MetaVR products.

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