Embedded Training for fighter pilots is provided by means of simulation built into operational aircraft and is executed during flight. In the cockpit the simulation presents the pilots a realistic and challenging synthetic environment containing synthetic hostile and friendly aircraft and synthetic Surface-to-Air Misile systems (SAM-sites). The pilots can interact with this environment using the aircraft's offensive and defensive systems as they are expected to do in real combat situations.
This method of training can bring a lot of advantages to the conventional forms of combat flight training. A major advantage is that it can provide more opponents in the mission scenarios as would be normally available. This is especially the case for interactions with SAM-sites. Not only can it significantly improve the training effectiveness but also lower the training constraints as normally present during peace time. While increasing sensor and missile performance actually demand larger training space, airspace will become more limited because of environmental constraints, training range capacity and air traffic. Embedded Training allows overcoming these constraints. A typical example is the night flying training where, under such constraint conditions, Embedded Training can add significant training content.
To develop the necessary technology Dutch Space is working closely with NLR in national and international programmes. This has resulted in the development of the 'Embedded Combat Aircraft Training System' (E-CATS). In April 2004 this system was demonstrated on an operational F-16 MLU fighter aircraft of the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF). In various sorties with this system, the advantages of Embedded Training were demonstrated. These flights proved that such an in-flight training system can indeed provide more intense and realistic training in a safe and flexible manner.
As a result these demonstrations have set a benchmark for modern air combat training.
Lockheed Martin has contracted Dutch Space and NLR to contribute to the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program for the development of Embedded Training for the F-35 Lightning II.
In further research for the RNLAF, Dutch Space and NLR have developed solutions for full stimulation of the F-16's Mission System. For this reason Dutch Space firmly believes that Embedded Training is not only beneficial for new combat aircraft, but can also bring the same benefits with short return on investments for existing combat aircraft.
More information is available in the following documents: