The role of technology in defence training across the Middle East
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The role of technology in defence training across the Middle East

The role of technology in defence training across the Middle East

Militaries in the region must continue to embrace innovation and emerging technologies to train their soldiers, sailors and aviators says Thibaut Trancart, VP and MD, Europe and Middle East at CAE Defense & Security

CAE Defence and Security Interview

How has the pandemic impacted the defence sector and procurement in the Middle East?

Despite Covid-19 impacting programme deliveries and delaying some procurement plans in the Middle East, we have continued to see an appreciation of the value of investing in training and operational support and its role in maintaining a high state of readiness. During the pandemic, CAE was able to leverage technology to continue providing our essential services, such as virtual instructor-led classroom training and remote acceptance testing on training devices. And we foresee demand for these services continuing.

The increased uptake of digital immersion technologies like virtual reality is a particularly interesting outcome of the pandemic. Technologies like cloud computing, big data analytics and artificial intelligence are transforming training and mission support for multi-domain operations. By bringing together key technologies, we can better leverage synthetic environments and create a secure virtual world, helping to prepare countries quickly, in a cost-effective way and away from prying eyes.

What are some of CAE’s key projects in the UAE and how are these projects adding to the global trends for training in defence?

One of our key projects in the UAE is the on-shore Naval Doctrine and Combat Training Centre (NDCTC), which will be an example of how developing comprehensive training centres and deploying the latest technology can be used to not only enable individual training, but team, whole-ship and even collective/joint mission training. Once completed, the NDCTC will be one of world’s most advanced naval training facilities, and CAE’s second centre of excellence in the UAE. We have also worked with the UAE Air Force to deliver comprehensive training on the RQ-1E remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) for pilots and sensor operators. RPA training – CAE’s first centre of excellence in the UAE – provides comprehensive academic, simulator and live-flying training. Finally, we have developed helicopter simulators for the UAE Joint Aviation Command.

Can you describe CAE’s other work here in the Middle East?

CAE has been a key defence partner in the Middle East for more than 40 years, working with governments to help maintain high levels of mission readiness in a constantly and rapidly changing landscape in the face of emerging and unpredictable threats.

We have several ongoing projects to enhance our presence in the region. We are developing a Joint Multinational Simulation Centre (JMSC) for one of the countries in the GCC, which will enable commanders from the Army, Air Force, Navy and staff colleges to use constructive simulation capabilities to conduct a range of military training exercises.

In Oman, we are supporting the Oman Aviation Academy to train and supply pilots for the civil and military sectors. In Qatar, we are developing a comprehensive NH90 helicopter training solution for the Qatar Emiri Air Force in addition to providing our new state-of-the-art CAE e-Series visual display solution to BAE Systems for Qatar’s Eurofighter Typhoon simulators. We built and continue to support the KC-130J simulator for the Kuwait Air Force.

Many of our digital training programmes delivered here will make training cost-effective for governments and realistic for personnel. Backed up by AI technology these platforms have also doubled up as an effective intelligence tool for governments and decision-makers.

What is the future of remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) in the Middle East and how are you pivoting towards this growing trend?

The increased deployment of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) in the region is a particularly good opportunity for CAE, which is broadening its range of training solutions geared specifically towards RPA. As mentioned earlier, CAE is working with the UAE Air Force to deliver comprehensive training on the RQ-1E RPA for pilots and sensor operators. Separately, we are debuting a new Vertical Take Off and Landing (VTOL) capability on our UAS Mission Trainer at the Dubai Airshow, 2021. There is a growing demand to use VTOL platforms for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance as well as maritime operations, and highly trained operators are essential for mission success. We also recently acquired L3Harris’ Military Training business and its RPA training capabilities, including being the long-term supplier of RPA simulators to the U.S. Air Force, and these capabilities complement our portfolio.

What has been the impact of digital technology in the defence training space and how has CAE harnessed its potential here?

We see huge potential in the Middle East to increase the adoption of digitally immersive solutions to be used throughout training and operational support. Advances in Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies, such as cloud computing, big data analytics, and artificial intelligence are transforming training and mission support for multi-domain operations.

As demand for pilots increases, technology will have a central role in helping militaries to achieve faster pilot throughput cost-effectively. We are aligning to this trend with the CAE Trax Academy, a comprehensive pilot training continuum that leverages digital technologies and data analytics to deliver a better and faster pilot throughput. Solutions like virtual reality-enabled courseware allow pilots to learn at their own pace and a data-driven training system leverages big data analytics and artificial intelligence to objectively assess performance. We also foresee an increased demand for trainers that leverage mixed reality technologies to create a digitally immersive and optimal training environment for rear crew.

Militaries in the region must continue to embrace innovation and emerging technologies to train their soldiers, sailors and aviators better and more efficiently preparing them for all eventualities in real-life combat scenarios.

How is the defence training space evolving in the region in comparison to the growth in western countries?

Multi-domain operations are central to the future of warfare. Training needs to be focused on preparing countries for near-peer adversaries across all battle space domains. But given the limited training infrastructure and unique political landscape that exists in parts of the Middle East, it can be difficult for militaries to conduct conventional multi-domain training on a large scale and in a way that integrates forces.

The need for simulated training environments and the use of secure synthetic environments for much more than training is set to grow. We are already witnessing the success of using synthetic environments for analysis, planning and ultimately operational decision support in countries like the US and UK and these can be modelled here.

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