January saw the introduction of a new kind of simulator to the
Army. The engagement skills trainer 2000 (EST 2000)—designed
and developed by Orlando, Fla.-based ECC International Corporation—adds
to the company’s collection of skill development technology.
With its three-dimensional targeting and wide array of training
scenarios, the EST 2000 simulator provides a level of sophistication
to small arms tactical training that will help prepare the U.S.
infantry soldier for missions and threats of the 21st century.
ECC has been building simulators, beginning with maintenance trainers
for the U.S. Air Force, for more than 30 years. It makes maintenance
simulators for the F-16 fighter and the C-17 transport aircraft.
ECC also makes several simulators for the Army including maintenance
and operator trainers for armor crews. Its CCTT is part of the combined
arms tactical trainer designed to provide force-on-force training
for armor crews up to the battalion level. Now, it’s the infantry’s
turn to train units in a simulated world.
The Army already uses several types of small arms trainers for
marksmanship skills training. Some of them afford a type of collective
The new engagement trainer from ECC combines marksmanship skills,
judgement training and collective combat training. An ECC spokesman
said its new small arms simulator is not intended to replace live-fire
training but was designed to enhance training by offering realistic
squad-level collective training in a simulated environment. Improved
technologies allow the system to detect failures. It knows where
the “bullet” is going, records weapon pitch and cant,
trigger pull and keeps a running record of each shooter’s
performance during collective training.
As a marksmanship trainer, the EST 2000 provides the shooter with
a full course of fire with simulated, but reduced recoil. Each shooter
receives a score card that shows a history of his aim for each shot
during the course of fire. The system tracks soldiers’ actions
and reactions from a three-dimensional, xyz plane for greater accuracy
and realism. It records individual performance for accurate after-action
reviews and improved individualized feedback. ECC also designed
the system for remote diagnostics.
The EST 2000 runs on a standard personal computer making training
relatively simple. Part of ECC’s Army contract includes a
24-7 toll-free technical-support telephone line to assist Army trainers
in resolving any problems with the system. According to ECC’s
program manager, Terry Kohl, ECC will train the trainers for the
new system, but the user-friendly simulator design means that soldiers
only need to know how to use a mouse to operate the EST 2000. It
takes one to three people one to two hours to set it up. Familiarity
with the 11 weapons that the system supports is the most complex
element of the new trainer.
This video-based system—which has more than 30 high-fidelity
friendly and enemy targets, 14 different terrain sets, variable
climatic conditions and special effects combined with over 175 scenario
options—offers opportunities for diverse, high-quality small
arms training. Each scene has between 12 to 18 outcomes, however,
individual instructors will have greater control over the training
conditions with the simulator’s scenario-editing feature.
It handles five firing lanes for more traditional marksmanship training,
but includes shoot-don’t-shoot judgment training as well as
squad-level collective training all scenarios. Because the system
can be networked, up to three five-lane systems can be working in
concert, allowing 15 soldiers to train together.
As an indoor simulator, the EST 2000 offers collective training
in any weather. Weather conditions, including, rain, snow, wind,
fog, dawn, dusk, day or night, are simulated. Special effects include
explosions, smoke, flares, bullet splash and tracer firing. Although
it uses a flat-screen display, the terrain features and targets
are three-dimensional objects. Terrain designs were based on specifications
set in the initial contract, however, Kohl said ECC could build
new terrain tailored to specific mission requirements. Scenarios
also include all standard squad-level infantry training tasks including
ambush and air attack.
Weapons, ranging from the 40 mm Mk19 automatic grenade launcher
and .50 caliber M2 machine gun to the individual 5.56 x 45 mm M16
assault rifle and small caliber hand guns, operate on compressed
air to fire laser “bullets” and simulate recoil and
weapon function. Most other small arms training devices use CO2
cartridges to achieve the same effects. In Suwanee, Ga., FATS Inc.
is working under contract to ECC to make the weapons for the EST
2000. ECC plans to include the objective individual combat weapon
in the simulator package when that weapon comes on line.
The Army is buying 76 simulators: 36 will go to the National Guard;
40 will go to active Army units. The first Army units to see the
new equipment will be at Fort Benning, Ga. Troops at Fort Lewis
will receive the next six. Delivery of the remaining simulator systems
is expected to be completed by the end of July 2001. If funding
is made available, the Army could exercise contract options to buy
at least 280 more units through 2004.
A combination of known technologies reduces some of the risk in
the design of the EST 2000, while it adds high-resolution, realistic
simulation to small arms training. As a computer-based system, it
adapts to mission requirements.