Virtual Reality Trials Transforms Future Fast Jet Training with CAE’ Sprint VR Trainer

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Ascent Flight Training, in collaboration with the UK Ministry of Defence is currently undertaking virtual reality trials at RAF Valley as part of the on-going development of innovative solutions for fast jet training. The UK MoD is its UK Military Flying Training System customer (UKMFTS).

The programme is looking at ways to improve the training on offer, increase the capacity of training courses, and enable more students to be fast-tracked through the pipeline to the front line. Ascent is working in partnership with the MoD and Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S), as well as working closely with their industry partners Lockheed Martin and CAE UK in trialling this innovative initiative.

The trials are using new Virtual Reality (VR) technologies, including upgrading some of the existing Lockheed Martin Flying Training Devices, as well as CAE’s Sprint VR trainer modelled on the T-6 Texan aircraft. By using enhanced ground-based simulated flight experiences, it is expected that students will be able to gain skills faster and undertake training that cannot be easily replicated in the air, such as formation flying and combat exercises. 

Tim James, Ascent Managing Director said: “I am so excited by this transformation project, a truly collaborative example of what we jointly can achieve by working in partnership with the RAF and D&ES teams, both at RAF Valley and wider. We aim to transform fast jet training and reduce the time it takes for our students to reach the front-line and defend the nation”.

Further examples of innovative technology being trialled include 360 video capture and playback through VR headsets, and mixed reality. The programme will also evaluate the potential for virtual instructor-student performance monitoring.

The results of the trials will be available this second half of the year and then independently validated through academic peer review, with the outcome driving the design of future course design for the UKMFTS programme.

The CAE Sprint Virtual Reality (VR) trainer is part of a feature of the CAE Trax Academy system to enhance training for future pilots. The VR trainer comes with physical controls, a virtual coach and CAE Rise (Real-time insights and standardised evaluations) performance assessment.

Procedures are practiced in the CAE Sprint VR trainer utilizing the CAE Medallion image generator, which delivers a higher-fidelity and more realistic virtual environment than traditional VR trainers.

Visual immersion is enabled via a VR headset with high-resolution out-the-window visuals and 20/20 visual acuity to read the instrument panel. Flight controls – joystick, throttle, and rudder pedals, combined with physical cues boosted by haptics and seat vibration – integrate to create a highly realistic immersive virtual environment in a high-fidelity, affordable yet sophisticated VR flight training device with a small footprint. Student progress is supported by a virtual coach providing immediate, actionable intervention and CAE Rise performance assessment to measure achievement in mastering the training task. –ac/cae/aaa (Photo: CAE)