CAE has achieved a number of successes in the military domain over the past 12 months, having capitalised on a move towards providing integrated training systems to its key defence customers.
Some 40% of revenue from the defence side of the business is now being derived from whole system delivery, which represents customers’ requirements for training provided in one package, according to Gene Colabatistto, group president for defence and security.
“[We have] started… on the US Army’s fixed-wing training contract,” he tells FlightGlobal. “This is a great example where we bought the land, built the facility and the simulators, the aeroplanes, the instructors, the courseware.
“We went from the ground-breaking of the facility to operations in 11 months, so I think the customer was very impressed that after some administrative delays, we kicked that off this year and delivered it in March. We are certainly at full operations today.”
This development was funded by CAE, and then an initial contract for seven years was signed with the army to provide the fixed-wing services. Colabatistto hopes that because the infrastructure is fully deployed and available, this contract will be extended.
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In January 2017, the firm also won an extension for the NATO Flying Training in Canada (NFTC) programme. This will see it provide services up to 2023 and includes the company training fighter pilots in western Canada. The extension will see the simulators being modified to increase the amount of virtual training and reducing the demands on the aircraft, which Colabatistto says will extend their service life by up to five years.
CAE will also network the simulators to enable joint training – and the company is exploring adding a live downlink from aircraft to simulator.
“We’re also going to be doing a live aircraft to simulator downlink as a technology experiment, to show first that we can be doing formation flying training where one aircraft is in the air, and a guy in the simulator can be his wingman,” he says.
Colabatistto says this concept could be operational within the next two years, and once validated it could enter service immediately. “NFTC is exciting because it gives us the opportunity to actually develop some of these advanced concepts.”
Additionally, under Canada’s 26-year fixed-wing search-and-rescue contract awarded in February 2017, CAE was selected as part of an Airbus Defence & Space team as training system integrator.
This will see the company provide aircrew and maintenance training to support the C295W fleet’s service life.
“We will be building the training centre, populating it with the flight simulators, providing instructors and courseware, and we will be training the entire fixed-wing search and rescue enterprise,” Colabatistto says.
The company has identified unmanned air vehicles as a key market, which will leverage its experience in providing the US Air Force’s General Atomics Aeronautical Systems MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper training.
In May 2017 it was announced that CAE would provide a whole-service training capability to the UAE for its new MQ-1-derived Predator XP fleet, which includes the development of a training centre in Abu Dhabi, simulators, courseware and instructors.
“We will take zero time pilots, meaning we will be doing ab initio RPV operator training and also mission training, so this will have a networking piece that goes along with it, so they can actually do tactical training in the simulation centre,” Colabatistto says.
“It’s a great example and a number of firsts. It’s General Atomics’ first sale of a Predator XP [and] it’s the first training centre outside the USA [for Predator/Reaper] that we’re building.”
The USAF is “at capacity” with its UAV training, he adds, and as it is exported worldwide, operators are starting to realise the merits of having their own indigenous capabilities.
Italy is due to receive a mission simulator for its fleet in the coming months, and will be the first to reduce its reliance on USAF training facilities.
“It’s of interest to the training commander that on any given day, if they can’t fly because of weather, some training could be done in the simulator,” Colabatistto says.
The UK’s new MQ-9-derived Protector UAV will be able to fly in national airspace under commercial flight rules, so it is important for the Royal Air Force to tailor its training accordingly.
“Protector is pretty advanced. We expect to be starting work on that very soon, and we’re actually doing some risk reduction work on our own right now to maintain schedule, so that one for all practical purposes is kicking off.”
The new UAV is likely to need both a military and civil certification, and the training will have to reflect the different types of operations it will undertake.
“That aircraft will be different, and therefore the training system like a commercial aircraft will have to be fully certificated,” Colabatistto says. “The instructors and pilots will have to be licensed. It is going to be different to any military programme anywhere in the world.”
He notes that all operators are looking to acquire some in-country training, and while the UK’s is the most promising, other operators will look at deciding on their own in the next two to three years and CAE is partnering with General Atomics on these potential requirements.
“In general, I think everybody believes [they] will have to have some training capacity in their own country,” he adds. “Whether they do all of training, or they look for airspace where they can do operational and mission training, I think that’s yet to be seen, but in every case the countries are interested in their own training capacity.
“For UAVs in particular, I think this is going to be a sovereign capability.”