St. John’s eLearning developer Bluedrop has been awarded the contract to provide the Hercules Observer Trainer (HOT) to the Australian Department of Defence. This project will see Bluedrop and its partners build and deliver the Hercules Observer Trainer (HOT) training device for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) by the end of June 2011. The contract is worth approximately $1M CAD. The HOT will help the loadmaster aboard the Hercules to learn how to better spot and deal with Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) and Air-to-Air Missile (AAM) threats as the Hercules is operating in hostile territory. The system has been successfully used for since 2008 at CFB Trenton by 426 Transport Training Squadron. This contract is being completed in partnership with Gladstone Systems Solutions (GSS), also based in St. John’s.
The HOT system is based on DRDC’s VirtualScan technology. It is comprised of a Trainee Station; an Instructor Operating Station (IOS); and a synthetic environment that includes a visual database and a threat generator. Hercules fleets experience ground threats to aircraft from Surface-to-Air Missiles and anti-aircraft fire. Although the aircraft are fitted with defence systems, these are dependent on sufficient early warning of the threat for the defence systems to be deployed in time to be effective during flights. Non-flying aircrew, such as loadmasters and flight engineers, provide early warning while observing the ground from side observation windows.
A HOT simulation system maximizes the ability of aircraft crew members to provide timely warning of external threats to the aircraft captain, thus enhancing the aircraft’s survivability in a hostile environment. The system is so intuitive and effective that in a recent study, trainee loadmasters were at the same level of effectiveness at threat detection within two lesson plans, as that found with experienced loadmasters with significant experience.
Before the HOT, the training was provided in a live environment and the threat reporting was practised during live flight under the supervision of an experienced loadmaster against imaginary threats. This was a very expensive and inefficient way of conducting that training. The HOT provides a cost-effective way to provide real-time training that is easily re-deployable to meet training needs in a variety of locations.
“The HOT will help Hercules aircrews better detect and respond to any threats to the aircraft from the ground. We are confident that DRDC’s VirtualScan technology will hold great promise for efficiently and inexpensively addressing threat avoidance training as well as for Search and Rescue training,” said Emad Rizkalla, Bluedrop President and CEO. “We are pleased to be expanding our focus to Australia and are already engaging with several potential global clients in the Hercules and Search and Rescue community.”