IT²EC: RAF needs more collective training

RAF Tornado
RAF Tornado synthetic training will be included in the Gladiator system. (David Oliver)

Air Commodore Ian Townsend CBE, Assistant Chief of Staff Capability Delivery Combat Air, Headquarters Air Command, Royal Air Force (RAF) was another member of the IT²EC keynote panel.

A former Deputy Lighting Force Commander and Station Commander at RAF Marham, he commented that he recently visited the Typhoon Training Facility at RAF Lossiemouth, but although impressive, had not seemed to have progressed for 10 years. According to him, training should move away from aircrew and become more collective. It should include comprehensive mission and weapons data, all of which has to be accurate. He also stressed the importance of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) plus industry.

An excellent example of this relationship is the Gladiator synthetic training system. Developed by Boeing Defence UK, Gladiator will initially integrate all the RAF’s primary air platform simulators and will then expand to other domains such as land and maritime environments so that different force personnel can train safely and securely together. The simulation infrastructure integrates all the services such as computer generated forces, communications, image generation, weather, after action review, cross domain security, exercise management and synthetic environment.

A number of factors impact the UK’s ability to complete all necessary training in the live environment which include airspace constraints, environmental considerations, cost, and operational security. Gladiator will overcome these limitations by safeguarding highly classified information while linking together simulators across the country and beyond. Air, land, maritime, space and cyber capabilities will be integrated in future, along with increased connectivity with Allies and Partners.

When Gladiator received its Initial Operating Capability (IOC) at RAF Waddington in February 2023, the Air Commodore stated: “Delivering this world-leading, technologically advanced, and innovative multi-domain integration capability has required significant development and collaboration between the MoD and industry partners. Gladiator will support sustainability initiatives by helping to reduce the environmental footprint of collective training. It will allow for more complex training to occur in a structured setting and reduce the cost of carrying out real life training while helping to reduce carbon emissions.”

by David Oliver