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I/ITSEC 2023: British Army could have saved £120 million in artillery ammunition, says manufacturer

30th November 2023 - 16:02 GMT | by Flavia Camargos Pereira in Orlando

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Blue Shell, a wireless instrumentation system, has been used by the British Army. (Photo: Cubic Defense)

Cubic Blue Shell, a train-as-you-fight solution, has been in use by the British Army for three years offering an indirect fire training system that simulates artillery drills and weapons effects.

An innovative indirect fire training solution developed by Cubic Defense has enabled the British Army to save several million of pounds in artillery ammunition, according to the solution’s manufacturer. The solution, known as the Blue Shell system, is a ‘train as you fight’ capability designed to simulate artillery drills and a range of weapons effects.

Speaking to Shephard at I/ITSEC 2023 in Orlando, Florida, Cubic training delivery portfolio director Alastair Parkinson explained that the branch has been operating the solution for three years and fired 72,000 rounds through it. 

‘If that was live ammunition it would have cost [the British Army] £120 million (US$142 million),’ Parkinson claimed. 

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Blue Shell is a wireless instrumentation system, which can be deployed across a range of artillery platforms. It allows artillery to realistically integrate into instrumented live training environments. This capability also enables conducting collective and individual training, in addition to exercising the complete artillery system of systems from observer to platform, including C4I and logistics.

Lt Gen (Ret’d) James Terry, SVP – business development of ground strategy at Cubic, stressed that Blue Shell has provided realism and affordability to the instruction.

‘You cannot just go around shooting HIMARS, mortars or missiles [as] it is quite a expensive,’ he commented. ‘So, you need to be able to replicate this. [Blue Shell] reduces the cost of firing those rounds and prepares the individuals and the crews on those weapons systems.

‘Of course, the [British Army] will still need to live fire, but they have had £120 million worth of training effect for a price that was a whole lot less than that,’ Parkinson asserted.

From the instruction perspective, the system fills the artillery training void between theoretical drill and live firing, allowing operators to commit errors in a safe environment.

As Parkinson claimed, it offers ‘commanders in the field the friction that they would have in war, but get it in peacetime and force them to really think carefully about the decisions they make.’

The solution gathers positional data, barrel bearing and elevation, ammunition type, fuse and charge from system components and emulated ammunition. The data can than be used to cue weapon effects in instrumented live, virtual and constructive environments.

Blue Shell rounds. (Photo: Cubic Defense)

Lt Col (Ret’d) Martyn Armstrong, VP for global ground training product line at Cubic, added that the solution would allow for training artillery teams and ‘retraining’ manoeuvre arm commanders.

‘They need to understand how to operate with artillery and how that changes how they would historically operate,’ Armstrong explained. ‘Within this whole system of systems, we have actually incorporated everything you would expect to see on a contemporary battlefield right down to logistics.’

The capability gathers data during training to provide evidence and feedback on the operator’s performance.

Terry pointed out that it enabled users to ‘work through the tactics, techniques and procedures to make sure the force knows how to use’ the artillery equipment.

Blue Shell is compatible with the company’s Scopic Live, Virtual and Constructive (LVC) training suite, Area Weapons Effects Simulation and Tactical Engagement Simulation Systems (TESS) for seamless integration into combat training centres.

Developed to plug a capability gap in the defence market in terms of indirect fire solutions, it is composed of a communication interface, Cubic inertial measurement unit, fuse setter, direct fire site and instructor interface.

Terry added that the training environment was not instrumented for operating mortars and artillery systems whether tube or rocket artillery. 

‘When you get into a collective training environment, you could not accurately replicate the effects of fires,’ he noted. 

Blue Shell capability was recently demonstrated to the US Army in a trial in the Fire Centre of Excellence in Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

Shephard's I/ITSEC 2023 coverage is sponsored by:

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Flavia Camargos Pereira

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Flavia Camargos Pereira


Flavia Camargos Pereira is a land reporter at Shephard Media. She joined the company in …

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