Deployed simulators will help patrol crews sharpen skills
By RICHARD R. BURGESS, Managing Editor
Maritime patrol air crews
staged to overseas bases
soon will have sophisticated means to maintain critical but
perishable antisubmarine warfare
(ASW) skills while they deploy their
P-3C aircraft for operations in the
global war on terrorism.
Link Simulation & Training — a
unit of L- 3 Communications — is
developing for the Navy the P-3C
Forward-Deployed Trainer (FDT), a
simulator suite that will replicate
the three sensor operator crew stations inside the P-3C. The FDT will
be staged to forward-deployment
sites of P-3C squadrons for use by
the sensor operators, enabling them to maintain the
ASW proficiency they enhanced during their intensive
at-home training cycles.
Rear Adm. Brian C. Prindle, commander of the Navy’s
Patrol & Reconnaissance Group, who prepares P-3C
squadrons for deployment, said the FDT will allow the
squadrons to “keep their proficiency level up so … [they]
have much better capability to flex to the ASW mission.
“Our crews often find themselves doing a whole lot of
other missions — as opposed to ASW — when they’re on
deployment, especially in the Fifth Fleet area of responsibility (the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea),” Prindle said.
“That’s the reason why the Forward-Deployed Trainer is
being bought: a tool in their hands, no matter where they
are deployed, to maintain that proficiency.”
The P-3Cs’ two acoustic sensor operators — who
monitor sonobuoys (air-dropped hydrophones and pinging sound sources) — and one nonacoustic operator —
who runs the radar, infrared, magnetic detection and
electronic surveillance systems — are the heart of the aircraft’s ASW expertise.
The FDT is a subset of the Tactical Operational Readiness Trainer (TORT), a nontransportable full-mission
Practice, Practice, Practice
Maritime patrol crews do a lot of missions, especially on assignment in the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea. Yet the maintenance
of their antisubmarine warfare skills is essential.
■ The future Forward Deployed Trainer will replicate the three
sensor operator crew stations of the P-3C patrol craft.
■ The FDT instructor console provides up to 60 simultaneous
target platforms underwater, on the sea surface and on land.
■ The U.S. Navy’s depth of experience “is quite limited” in the
application of multistatic sensors against diesel subs. Crew members relish the chance to train with allied diesel subs.
P-3C crew simulator, five of which are being built by
Link for the Navy’s P-3C bases, according to Doug Hibbs,
Link’s senior program manager for P- 3 Devices. The
TORT replicates the latest Antisurface Improvement
Program version of the P-3C.
The pallet-transportable FDT includes two acoustic
and one nonacoustic sensor operator crew stations,
plus an instructor console. The crew stations include
the acoustic, radar, electro-optical, magnetic anomaly
detection, identification and electronic surveillance
sensors installed on the P-3C.
“The FDT and the TORT are almost identical to the
aircraft,” said Sean Clark, Link’s manager of Navy business development. “If you walked into an FDT or a
TORT, you would be surprised at the level of detail
these devices have. You probably wouldn’t be able to
tell the difference [from being in the aircraft].
The FDT instructor console can be used to select
“from up to 60 simultaneous target platforms, including sea surface, submarine, airborne, land targets for
visual, radar, acoustic and nonacoustic characteristics
in a variety of different operator-defined environments
in five different locations in the world,” Hibbs said.