Undersea Combat Simulators Needed, Navy Says

By Grace Jean

SimulationORLANDO — The Navy is worried about quiet diesel-electric submarines that are proliferating around the world and particularly in the western Pacific. But officials say the bigger challenge is training sailors to find and engage those submarines.

Rising fuel prices, restrictions on the use of sonar and less availability of ships are curtailing training, officials say.

In recent years, the Navy has sought to train sailors ashore in simulators. But virtual trainers do not accurately depict the near-shore environment in which the diesel submarines are operating, they assert. Nor do they replicate the sonar capabilities of current ships, particularly in the surface fleet.

There is a great need for anti-submarine warfare training technologies, says Vice Adm. John Harvey, Jr., deputy chief of naval operations for manpower, personnel, training and education.

Replicating the near-shore undersea environment in the virtual world has been a particular challenge for simulation experts. Not only is the topography of the ocean floor varied with reefs, volcanoes, sand bars, and other elements, but also the littoral waters are often teeming with activity from marine biological life and merchant shipping. All of that generates noise and alters how sound propagates through the water. To capture those factors in a model would take time and resources, industry experts say.

Current simulation projects do not consider anti-submarine warfare a top priority. But some companies see a potential market. Delex Systems Inc., a training, intelligence and information technology company based in Vienna, Va., has modeled the ocean floor in several previous projects, says Edmund Driscoll II, president.

“We know that detailed simulation is what really matters in a learning environment,” he says.

The company has developed a software architecture, called BattleNet 360, that can teach sailors on an individual or group basis how to operate various Navy systems. It is designed to sit on top of existing hardware and can employ databases of realistic models into war fighting scenarios.

“It’s all set up and ready to go for submarine sonar acoustic models,” says Brian Burke, program manager of the company’s tactics and simulation group.

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Topics: Simulation Modeling Wargaming and Training

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