CAMP EDWARDS, Mass. – The Massachusetts Army National Guard conducted a new equipment training seminar for Small Un-manned Aircraft Systems from February 25th to 27th at the Regional Training Institute on Camp Edwards.
The system allows an instructor to design, deploy, track and score mission training scenarios and goals in a controlled and reproducible environment to better support the unit’s Air Crew Training Plan.
The Visualization and Mission Planning Integrated Rehearsal Environment (VAMPIRE) Institutional Training System (ITS) for Small Un-manned Aircraft System (SUAS) Operators is an adaptable, easy to transport, simulation-style training system. Consisting of a computer, several monitors, a projector, screen, and printer, this system can be set up in any classroom environment and link an instructor with up to ten two-man teams of students.
Scott Pollman, an engineer with Sigmatech Inc., a contractor supporting the SUAS project in cooperation with Redstone Army Arsenal, Alabama, said that the system can be upgraded and expanded over time and is a real multiplier for SUAS training.
“It’s very cost-effective,” said Pollman. “You have to get the Soldier, you‘ve gotta get airspace time and all that takes time and costs money. With the simulator, he can get his qualifications quicker, easier, and they can observe his abilities.”
Another benefit of ‘inside-flying’ is that bad weather won’t preclude training. Flight training can be conducted year-round, regardless of the time of day or outside weather conditions. There is also less chance of mishaps and damaging equipment. Students will be able to make mistakes and learn from them before operating the actual SUAS in the field.
“So when he’s out flying with the real ‘bird’, he’s more proficient and you’re less likely to have an accident, “said Pollman.
Up to ten two-man teams of students can be trained simultaneously in a variety of scenarios featuring myriad weather and atmospheric conditions. The instructor has the ability to modify missions and drop in new targets, change conditions, and cause ‘difficulties’ with the SUAS that the students are flying.
Real-time feedback on the students’ performance can be provided by the instructor from his station, either selectively or to the group as a whole.
“The instructor can monitor every single student, so as they are all flying, he can select a student or all students,” said Pollman.
The Massachusetts National Guard only uses Ravens right now, but other types of SUAS’s may be added to the inventory in the future. The VAMPIRE system will be a key element of any future training.
“Right now it’s just the Ravens, but you could probably interlink with Puma or any of the other ‘smalls’ that work with the same hand controllers,” said Pollman.
Massachusetts was one of the first states to conduct the SUAS RAVEN Operator course through its 101st Regional Training Institute, located on Camp Edwards. Over the past few years, many Soldiers from the Massachusetts National Guard and from other states as far as Hawaii have come here to learn how to operate these machines.