IT2EC NEWS: Czech, U.S. Companies Team Up to Debut Portable F-15E Simulator

By Sean Carberry

Vrgineers, Inc. photo

ROTTERDAM, Netherlands — While the F-15E Strike Eagle dates to the 1980s, it is still in use by militaries around the world, and soon customers will have access to an affordable, portable simulator capable of advanced mission training, according to vendors developing the system.

Prague-based Vrgineers and Razbam Solutions, of Wilmington, Delaware, unveiled their F-15E simulator this week at IT2EC — one of Europe's biggest training and simulation conferences. Company officers said the platform will be ready for customers later this year. Like their existing F-35 simulator, the F-15E system combines Razbam’s F-15E model with Vrgineers’ portable trainer and XTAL 3 virtual headset, said Vrgineers CEO Marek Polcak during an interview at the conference.

“What we are showing here is the cheapest version of F-15E Strike Eagle tactical/mission simulator,” he said. “The cockpit is fully virtual, but everything in the cockpit works including flares, including the radar system, everything. You can load in different backgrounds and train with the weapons as well.”

The current model includes throttle and stick replicas but lacks the full array of switches and instruments. That’s coming later this year, he said.

“We are designing the seat, we are purchasing different types of controllers to integrate with it, when we find that some specific panels, instruments or switches are missing, then we design them and manufacture” them, he said. “At the end of the day, the goal is to build very convenient and reliable trainer.”

The anticipated price point is $70,000 per unit and the simulators allow for multiple pilots to train simultaneously from separate locations.

Neither company could discuss any details of current or potential customers for the simulator, but they noted that several countries are flying Boeing-built F-15 variants. The United States, Israel, South Korea, Singapore, Qatar and Saudi Arabia either fly the F-15E, or its variants, or have them on order. 

“They are built to be interconnected so you can have multiple of them interconnected so they can approach the target together and sync,” he added.

And that’s the gap that the companies are trying to fill, he said. Air Forces flying F-15Es don’t have enough of the traditional domed simulators to conduct live, joint training for pilots to exercise complex missions together. Given that F-15 variants are projected to be part of the U.S. fleet for years to come, the market demand is there for a portable and inexpensive simulator, he said.

The simulators can support systems from multiple vendors, such as multiSIM or Bohemia Interactive VBS4, he added.

“So, we are able to basically deploy more or less any type of software on that and integrate it through the [Distributed Interactive Simulation] protocol, which allows you to integrate different simulators,” he said. “So, then you can have even like Eastern and the Western platforms in the same simulation environment against each other. And they can be always run by [artificial intelligence].”

One of the key elements of the system is the XTAL headset, which is under constant revision and improvement based on feedback from customers like the U.S. Air Force, he said.

“We are modifying the skeletal structure of the headset, we are continuously improving sensors, like increasing the resolution,” he said. “We are improving the lens design, because the overall quality of the picture of the visuals is a combination of high-resolution, high-quality display together with the optics and then the algorithms which need to be calculated the way that it undistorts the image.”

The other critical component of the simulator is Razbam’s F-15E model, which took more than three years to develop, according to Razbam CEO Ronald Mieles.

“This takes years because we have to actually recreate your aircraft in the best way, we have to go out and investigate … and scan everything” to have the proper proportions inside the aircraft, he said.

And the system involves more complex and dynamic radar simulations that represent what pilots will encounter in live flight, he said.
Razbam’s F-15E model is built on Mission Systems’ Mission Combat Support, or MCS, simulation environment, which Mieles described as having the best flight modeling with up to 90 percent certainty. “That’s why we chose it as a base simulator,” he said.

Polcak said in the future “we know that it's counted on to be participating in operations together with F-35,” since the F-15 can carry a larger complement of weapons than the F-35.

"We are able to build a trainer for F-35 as well as F-15,” he said. “We know that they will be combined in the future.”

Topics: Training and Simulation

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