I/ITSEC 2023: Solving a Polish air defence training challenge
The introduction of a new item of equipment into service always requires an accompanying training programme. This may seem an obvious statement, but it is only relatively recently that major defence procurement tenders have routinely specified the provision of simulators to support that training as an integral part of the package.
An associated issue is the provision of this training when a major item of equipment that is already in service domestically is first sold to a foreign customer.
This is invariably accompanied by a training package in the format that customer needs, particularly in terms of language, and is generally based on materials which are already developed.
But what do you do when such an item is sold before it has been fully introduced into domestic service and the base training package is not sufficiently developed?
That was the problem posed by the purchase of Northrop Grumman’s (NG’s) Integrated Battle Command System (IBCS) by Poland before it had even reached initial operating capability with the US Army, which is expected before the end of the year.
NG describes IBCS as implementing ‘a modular, open and scalable architecture that is foundational to integrating available assets in the battlespace, regardless of source, service or domain onto a common fire control network’.
Originally designed as a command and control (C2) system for ground-based air defence the US is now looking to broaden IBCS application, but Poland is procuring it as the C2 system for its WISŁA medium-range air defence system, with the first components delivered in May 2023.
In the absence of any established IBCS training package NG has developed the Air Defense Reconfigurable Trainer (ART), which it announced in June 2023 had been delivered two years ahead of schedule.
According to NG, the ART ‘hosts NG-developed training content that will prepare the Polish military to operate and maintain the IBCS system’.
It was built using material developed for the US Army’s new equipment training, NG said, and it ‘allows the end user to augment in-person training, as well as conduct self-paced sustainment training’. This would, the company noted, ‘accelerate training speed and efficiency while simultaneously reducing potential cost’.
It is an unclassified individual skills trainer that consists of a server set, an instructor console and a configurable number of trainee workstations. The package concentrates on individual users and is not intended for team training in its current configuration.
The system is focused on the C2 elements of IBCS and includes simulations of emplacing and march-ordering system-specific equipment. It is a stand-alone solution and not embedded in the operational hardware.
Interestingly, the language used throughout the training material is English and no Polish translation has been made, which NG said was ‘in line with system requirements’. This may be because the IBCS itself is being delivered with English as the operating language, although that is not confirmed.
There has been some specific Polish customisation, including using accurate vehicle and other markings, colours and uniforms in the simulations and e-learning material.
The US Army’s intentions for fielding an IBCS individual skills trainer have not yet been made known – if indeed there is any intention of providing one.
NG also notes, however, that the ART – including the learning management system – can host a wide variety of training material that is Shareable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM)-compliant. SCORM is a set of technical standards for e-learning software.
That flexibility ‘opens the door to a wide variety of future training possibilities’, including other IBCS sales programmes. IBCS’s use by Poland is likely to be expanded to include the NAREW short-range air defence programme and ART clearly could be developed to cover other systems as well.
This article originally featured in Shephard’s Decisive Edge Newsletter – Training in August 2023.
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