Thales simulators support RAF Tornados
Thales UK-ACE has been playing a key simulation and training role in support of a Royal Air Force (RAF) Tornado fast jet squadron detachment handover in Afghanistan. The Thales-ACE team, based at RAF Marham, has been providing operational training of Tornado crews pre- and post-deployment to Afghanistan.
No 2 (Army Co-operation) Squadron has returned to its home base in Norfolk following a four-and-a-half month commitment operating from Kandahar airfield. It has been replaced by 9 (Bomber) Squadron, another Marham-based unit that will be deployed over Christmas and the New Year.
Thales has been providing simulator training at both Marham and Lossiemouth, which is undertaken alongside actual flying sorties to ensure that the crews are fully trained in all aspects of the job and ready to deploy.
According to the company, before deployment, each squadron crew undertakes a series of demanding sorties in the resident Thales GR4 simulator to familiarise themselves with the upcoming operation. The simulator realistically portrays the whole of Afghanistan, including very detailed portrayal of airfields and operating areas. Crews are able to complete total sortie training, following Kandahar taxi and take-off procedures, with temperature and weather set to demonstrate the extremes of heat and cold experienced in such mountainous terrain.
The sorties are designed to immerse the crews in operational procedures, including weapon delivery, while also preparing them for extreme and/or emergency situations, such as aircraft malfunctions. The sophisticated synthetic environment means that crews can complete training in both day and night scenarios, and in all weathers.
During the time that the squadron is deployed, crews are rotated back to the UK on a regular basis to complete further training in the simulator. This prevents ‘skill fade’ in key areas of their flying that they do not commonly exercise when deployed. When squadrons return from their Afghan deployment they are required to undergo re-familiarisation simulator training to bring them up to date with UK peacetime flying procedures and operations from their home base.
Marion Broughton, head of Thales UK’s military aerospace business, said: ‘Thales has a proud, long history of supporting the RAF in preparing crew for real combat missions such as Afghanistan. Thales’s training services enable crew to rehearse complex missions in synthetic environments to familiarise themselves with real scenarios, bridging the gap between individual equipment-oriented training and live collective training.’
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