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ITEC 2017: Dutch door gunner trainer upgrade

17th May 2017 - 7:00 by Trevor Nash in Gilze-Rijen

ITEC 2017: Dutch door gunner trainer upgrade

Along with MOUT, cultural awareness and JTAC training, one of the major training shortfall issues to emerge over recent years has been the need to train helicopter door gunners. At the RNLAF Gilze-Rijen air base, the Netherlands’ Defence Helicopter Command has just completed the update of the projection system on its door gunner simulator (DGS).

The DGS provides a unique approach to training door and ramp gunners on aircraft such as the CH-47, Cougar and NH90. Historically, companies have offered helmet mounted display solutions to achieve such training but as 1st Lt Paul Arends told Shephard, ‘such systems do not allow gunners to undertake key skills such as normal weapon drills or to address difficulties such as stoppages or run away events.’

The Netherlands Defence Helicopter Command’s DGS was supplied by US company Pathfinder Systems Inc in 2014 and was officially accepted in February 2015. The device features a dome-based display system.

The recent upgrade by Barco has provided enhanced fidelity for the 22 FL35 LCD projectors. These systems are distributed with eight for each door gunner position and six for the ramp gunner position. The LCD projectors allow training scenarios in day and night conditions; the latter allowing gunners to use their own helmet and NVG systems.

The simulator is reconfigurable and the DGS can replicate the CH-47, Cougar and the NH90.

The FL35 LED projectors are used to display the MetaVR VRSG image generator databases which includes the Vlealand live firing range in the northern Netherlands as well as Afghanistan. The DGS provides two main weapon systems, notably the 7.62mm FN MAG and the 0.50 FN M3M, along with different mounts for the three helicopters.

‘We have saved so much money in terms of ammunition, flight hours and the ability to improve training by repeating exercises to ensure training lessons are fully assimilated,’ said Arends.

Although more expensive than HMD approaches to door gunner training, the Pathfinder solution has already been adopted by the US Coast Guard and is now drawing attention from the likes of Germany, Belgium and the UK’s Joint Helicopter Command; the latter having visited the facility six weeks ago.

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