Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Future Canadian Fighter Jocks to Split Simulator and Real-World Training Time

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Future Canadian Fighter Jocks to Split Simulator and Real-World Training Time

Article excerpt

RCAF eyes 'virtual' training squadron

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OTTAWA - Royal Canadian Air Force fighter pilots of the future could be spending almost as much time in a simulator as they do in the cockpit under a revised training regime that has its eyes on the bottom line as much as technology, say internal documents.

The idea was just one of a series of options being examined as military planners look towards the eventual replacement of the CF-18 fleet, possibly by the end of the decade.

Air force officials consulted widely throughout last year with the defence industry about what type of training aircraft might be needed, and what sort of "ground-based systems" were available, say several briefing notes prepared for senior military commanders and top civilian defence officials.

The current training regime is tailored to the CF-18s and will have to be revamped, regardless of whether the Harper government chooses to go ahead with the controversial purchase of F-35 stealth fighters.

The documents, released to The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act, show the training review was ordered by the now-current head of the air force, Lt.-Gen. Yvan Blondin, while he was still deputy commander.

The fidelity and realism of the last generation of simulators has given military planners the confidence that more time can be spent outside of the cockpit, says an undated briefing from late 2011.

"We're probably going to move towards a training plan that is probably going to be 50 per cent (simulation), 50 per cent flying, which is much different than what we've got now," Blondin said in an interview with The Canadian Press last fall.

"I'm a strong believer in simulation. I can transfer a lot of that training (into) simulation."

Currently air force fighter pilots spend about 20 per cent of their advanced training time practising in simulators and 80 per cent in the air with the actual jet.

Technical journals in Washington report that the U.S. Army is enthusiastic about more simulator time for its helicopter pilots, but the U. …

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