F-22 Pilots to Get Advanced Trainers by ‘03

By Roxana Tiron

The simulators and training equipment for the F-22 Raptor air-superiority fighter aircraft are scheduled for delivery to the Air Force by 2003, industry officials said.

The F-22, which has been in development for at least a decade, cleared a major hurdle in September, when the Defense Acquisition Board approved the production of 10 aircraft, allowing the program to enter a $2 billion low-rate initial production phase. Lockheed Martin Aeronautical Systems Co. is the prime contractor. The Air Force could end up buying nearly 300 F-22s over the next decade.

The Boeing Co. supplies the F-22’s wings, aft fuselage, avionics systems, training and life-support systems. A Northrop Grumman-led joint venture with Raytheon, under contract to Boeing, is developing, testing and manufacturing the radar system for the F-22.

For the development and production of training devices, Boeing received about $110 million in contracts.

In the long term, Boeing plans to produce 106 training devices, according to Alan Blackstock, Boeing’s F-22 training-devices manager. Three types of pilot training devices and five types of maintenance-training devices are currently under development by Link Simulation & Training, in Arlington, Texas, a division of L-3 Communications. Another two maintenance devices are being provided by USM, in Houston, Texas.

The engineering, manufacturing and development (EMD)contract was awarded to Boeing and Lockheed Martin in 1991, but the development of the training devices only began in January 1997.

Two contracts worth $22 million for the maintenance-training devices and $28 million for the pilot-training devices were awarded to Link. In 2000, USM won the contract for the two additional types of maintenance trainers. The company declined to specify the value of the contract.

“We are currently developing 10 different configurations of training devices in EMD and are producing six production units in Lot 1 [copies of the trainers],” said Blackstock. He said that the training devices range from simple panel remove-and-install features to complex simulators.

For pilot training, Link is working on the F-22 full-mission trainer, a weapons tactics trainer and an egress-procedures trainer, said Rick Oyler, Link’s spokesman.

“The F-22 full mission trainer is going to be the first trainer to employ a nine-facet SimuSphere visual system display,” said Oyler. SimuSphere was designed as a dodeca-hedron display making use of all nine facets in its full configuration. Fold mirrors are used on some of the facets to reduce the facility footprint of the system. A dodecahedron is a solid figure with 12 equal pentagonal faces meeting in threes at 20 vertices.

“This will enable the pilot to view out the window imagery wherever he happens to turn his head,” explained Oyler. “He will have the full motion, as he will have in the actual aircraft.” SimuSphere has a much smaller footprint than existing domes, which can be as high as 40 feet. “These large domes have not been able to provide the computer chip-generated imagery through the same degree of brightness and resolution as the SimuSphere,” said Oyler.

The smaller size of the dome also reduces maintenance costs for the F-22 full-mission trainer, because it will take up much less space, he explained.

The U.S. Navy is already using SimuSphere for its F/A-18 Hornet flight trainers, but the Navy requested three to five facets, rather than nine.

“The full mission trainer features a 360-degree visual system and incorporates 1.4 million lines of code,” said Blackstock. Many of the codes are for the visual displays and some make the trainer fly and handle situations like the actual aircraft would do, he said. Developers are working to replicate the actual F-22 cockpit as closely as possible.

“Those types of things that the student would physically interface are real,” said Blackstock. The trainer has a realistic aircraft throttle and stick, rudder paddles and landing gear. The cockpit seat is simulated, “but you wouldn’t be able to tell,” said Blackstock.

When pilots train on the full-mission trainer, they will be practicing a typical range of training maneuvers—from formation flight, air refueling, weapons delivery, air-to-air and air-to-ground combat, emergency procedures, and take-off and landings, said Oyler.

“The landing-gear trainer also includes embedded software and fully interfaces to air vehicle hydraulic, air and coolant carts, as well as the portable maintenance aid—a computer used to diagnose the health of the air vehicle,” said Blackstock.

He added that modern trainers require high levels of fidelity, because today’s fighter planes have only one pilot seat. “When they go from the full-mission trainer, the first time they fly will be solo,” said Blackstock.

Link is scheduled to build two additional full-mission trainers and four weapon-tactics trainers under a new production contract from Boeing, Oyler said.

Lockheed Martin has set up an F-22 demonstrator, designed to show Air Force pilots and program subcontractors how the end product will look. “The switches, the position, the shape and the functions are correct,” said Richard Mather, who is in charge of F-22 business development at Lockheed Martin. “But the sizes are about two thirds of the actual size, and the throttle keeps it well together, but it is like a game stick.”

Mather said that pilots can fly the airplane without taking their hands off the throttle and stick. The demonstrator has 27 switches and 127 functions and the trainees can manipulate data while flying, explained Mather. The demonstrator has altitude indicators, a maintenance page and databases that can be accessed on demand. “If you want to find out about a certain guy, you put the cursor on him,” said Mather.

The weapons-tactics trainer provides a more procedural training, and it is designed to develop air systems operation skills, said Oyler. The trainer has simulated controls and displays that represent the main F-22 aircraft instrument panel. “It will enable the pilots to practice individual and team weapons-systems employment, or it can be used as a mission-generation system,” said Oyler.

The egress-procedures trainer is a cockpit canopy which serves as a training device and allows pilots to learn how to execute various procedures. It supports ground and in-flight egress, lock-support training and ejection-seat inspections, explained Oyler. “It is more designed to permit the inspection of the cockpit, as well as the ability to eject safely from the cockpit.”

While pilot trainers focus mostly on the simulated cockpit, on the maintenance trainers, “you roll up your sleeves and do the work,” said Blackstock.

The maintenance trainers will use individual aircraft sections that look like those of the F-22, explained Oyler. Operator stations and a computational system will allow the instructors to control the training scenario. “These devices will support, in general, the inspection removal and replacement procedures and operational checks required for the various sections of the F-22,” said Oyler. As part of the maintenance trainers, Link is building the landing-gear trainer, armament trainer, cockpit and forward fuselage trainer, seat and canopy trainer, and aft fuselage trainer. The hardware for the trainers is developed by USM, under contract to L3 Communications, said Paul Johnson, USM’s vice president for sales.

As a subcontractor to Boeing, USM is also developing the fuel systems trainer, which teaches how to service the fuel system and the on-structure trainer, which shows maintenance personnel how to repair and replace individual panels, said Johnson.

Bob Krajczynsky, the Boeing manager of the F-22 maintenance training system, noted that the courseware only was designed for experienced technicians, not for beginners. “Basically, [our trainer] is intended for a maintenance technician already trained in the weapon system,” he said. “We are targeting people with a fairly good background in maintaining aircraft,” preferably those who have worked on F-15s.

Boeing is building 810 instruction modules, out of which approximately 507 are computer-based training modules used in classrooms. Thirty-six modules are available for students to train at their own pace, but they are designed in such fashion that, “students can’t go very far off track,” said Krajczynsky. “We allow them two mistakes, and after that, the instruction puts him back on the correct path.”

The computer-based training uses three-dimensional graphics that depict every inch of the aircraft, from the outside and the inside. Krajczynsky said the graphics are detailed and accurate. “If students pay attention in class, they are not going to have a problem identifying the parts,” he said. “They are photo-realistic.”

He added that commercial airliners use similar technology, which has helped to reduce training time by 30 percent. “Our computer-based training takes advantage of both visual and oral capabilities of the students,” Krajczynsky said. “When we project a picture on the screen, it will have a lot of graphics and very few words to touch on the basic point, and then the instructor adds his emphasis and goes into depth with his explanation.”

There are live mock-ups of the airplane available for students to learn how to remove and install pumps, bleed hydraulic systems and even jack up an airplane, Blackstock said. Training also includes operational checkout tests, fault isolation and repair tasks.

Because the F-22 fighter jet is still in development, the trainers will have to keep up with the latest advances. However, Blackstock explained that, because the training system is part of the weapons system contract, the developers must identify how a change in the weapon system would impact the trainers. That will ensure that there is “concurrency” between the aircraft and the trainer.

Topics: Aviation, Training, Contracting, ComputerBased Training

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