Arming our Fleet with the best systems is only one part of our imperative as systems builders. Our Navy’s systems are only as good as the people operating them – the mantra to “Train as You Fight” is a prevailing concept that has inspired a long lineage of innovative training solutions developed by the Navy. Admiral Luis de Florez first championed the use of “synthetic training devices” in 1941, urging the Navy to undertake the development of such devices to increase readiness. Numerous innovative training devices emerged during World War II, including ones that used motion pictures to train aircraft gunners, a device to train precision bombing, and a terrain modeling kit to facilitate operational planning in the field.
Training devices, of course, grew much more sophisticated as mechanical flight simulators first emerged, then high-fidelity, physics-based modeling and simulation training systems that replicated the real-world performance of everything from gun systems to steam-powered engine plants. All training systems have the clear goal of preparing sailors as thoroughly as possible to minimize the amount of On-the-Job training needed while operating at sea. The advent of digital computing in Navy systems significantly broadened the capability to simulate operating environments. If a ship’s electronic systems are understood, engineers can replicate those signals and represent them on operator screens through simulation/stimulation (Sim/Stim).
The undersea Navy’s flagship for these systems is the Submarine Multi-Mission Team Trainer (SMMTT), a complex assimilation of training subsystems (combat control, navigation, bridge, periscope, etc.) that simulates submarine combat and ship handling environments in our Navy’s sub schools. SMMTT is produced by an integrated government/contractor team led by the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Newport. The roots of SMMTT go back to the early 1980s, when the Navy discovered that laboratory Sim/Stim used to test new combat systems could be adapted into a broader, combat team training system – the Fire Control System Mk 117 “Interim” Trainer. The Interim Trainer was so successful it became permanent, grew, expanded, and today leads the way in a variety of technological areas including computer virtualization, and for its periscope and bridge trainer elements, visualization. SMMTT provides the capability to fully qualify sailors and crews on their systems before they ever see the inside of a submarine.
Shipboard training will always be an important part of the Navy’s training system portfolio. Rite-Solutions is helping the Navy expand the capabilities of the On-Board Team Trainer-Master Controller (OBTT-MC) for the Naval Sea Systems Command. As the name implies, OBTT-MC keeps submarine combat teams trained and ready while underway. OBTT-MC interfaces with and controls other subsystem On-Board Trainers (OBTs) such as weapons, sensors, and launchers, while simulating the combat environment – targets, oceans, and ship equipment. This comprehensive warfighting picture provides crew members the opportunity to Train as You Fight – in training mode while underway. To succeed in this challenge, our analysts and developers must stay ahead of new combat system functionality and include corresponding training capabilities in new OBTT-MC releases in conjunction with the combat system’s lead system integrator.
We are also developing the Sonar Basic Operator Trainer (SBOT). The SBOT is a stand-alone trainer similar to the OBTs discussed above, which simulates the electronic output of a passive sonar system. While submarines are deployed, the SBOT is used to train the sonar operators using that simulated display output, testing, and ensuring their ability to identify contacts in a timely and accurate manner.
Further ahead on the development roadmap, we are working with NUWC on next-generation Electronic Warfare system training capabilities. The goal is to provide both stand-alone operator training and integrated training with the rest of the combat team in a fully complemented SMMTT environment.
Our Navy’s systems are only as good as the people operating them, and the people in our Navy are among our nation’s best. Innovations in training systems will ensure that our sailors are as prepared as they can be if there’s a fight. At Rite-Solutions, we are very proud of the small part we play in serving those who serve us.