New training pushes RAF pilots faster and further

In a move which is pre­dict­ed to rev­o­lu­tionise RAF fly­ing train­ing, 4 (Reserve) Squadron, based at RAF Val­ley, is gear­ing up for its first stu­dent course in April 2012.

 -
Two RAF Hawk T2 air­craft pic­tured dur­ing a flight over North Wales [Pic­ture: Cor­po­ral Paul Old­field RAF, Crown Copyright/MOD 2010]
Source: Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

Through a com­bi­na­tion of syn­thet­ic train­ing and 28 Hawk T2 air­craft, the train­ing syl­labus which now awaits the first stu­dents is con­sid­ered to be world-lead­ing:

“I’ve been to Aus­tralia and the USA and seen how they train fast jet pilots and in my view we’ve leapfrogged them,” said Squadron Leader Rob Caine, Offi­cer Com­mand­ing Staff Train­ing and Stan­dards.

“This is prin­ci­pal­ly because of the Oper­a­tional Capa­bil­i­ty 2 soft­ware in the jet which turns a very capa­ble dig­i­tal Hawk into a front line air­craft emu­la­tor, both air-to-air and air-to-ground.”

Stu­dents come to the North Wales sta­tion straight from fly­ing the Tucano at RAF Lin­ton-on-Ouse:

“On arrival each stu­dent is giv­en a lap­top and wher­ev­er they go on sta­tion they can plug it in and get what­ev­er they need — brief­in­gs, debriefs, the fly­ing pro­gramme, stu­dent study devices etc,” explained Flight Lieu­tenant Ste­fan Brown, an instruc­tor on 4 (Reserve) Squadron.

Dur­ing six weeks of ground school stu­dents will progress using a vari­ety of train­ing aids, includ­ing a full-motion sim­u­la­tor, and will prac­tise every­thing they can expect to encounter in the air before get­ting air­borne. There­after, four or five flights are under­tak­en with an instruc­tor before the first solo:

“The aim of the syl­labus is to pro­duce a mul­ti-role sin­gle jet pilot and we can take pilots faster and fur­ther than ever before,” explained Sqn Ldr Caine.

“We are now able to train the tac­tics and pro­ce­dures of the front line here, includ­ing intro­duc­tions into the clas­si­fied plan­ning aspects. As a result the stan­dard [of grad­u­at­ing stu­dents] should be high­er in terms of capa­bil­i­ty and readi­ness.”

The advance­ment in capa­bil­i­ties of the new Hawk T2 enables train­ing to be passed down from Oper­a­tional Con­ver­sion Units (OCUs). Accord­ing­ly stu­dents at RAF Val­ley will now receive train­ing on air-air, close air sup­port and oth­er com­bat roles:

“We are down­load­ing from the OCUs some of the train­ing pack­ages they cur­rent­ly under­take. This does­n’t take [fly­ing] hours from the OCUs, it enables them to take their stu­dents fur­ther than ever before and achieve com­bat ready sta­tus ear­li­er.”

Exter­nal­ly, apart from an extend­ed nose, the T2 looks lit­tle dif­fer­ent from its T1 pre­de­ces­sor, but in the cock­pit things are marked­ly dif­fer­ent.

Three, full-colour, mul­ti-func­tion dis­plays sim­i­lar to those used by the Typhoon can be used to dis­play nav­i­ga­tion, weapon and sys­tems infor­ma­tion, and the aircraft’s head-up dis­play has been updat­ed to use sym­bols and data used in cur­rent com­bat air­craft.

Oth­er changes include ‘hands-on-throt­tle-and-stick’ con­trols which are ful­ly rep­re­sen­ta­tive of front line com­bat air­craft types, and twin-mis­sion com­put­ers host­ing sim­u­la­tions of a wide range of sen­sor and weapon sys­tems.

Whilst the air­craft does not car­ry muni­tions-using soft­ware, an instruc­tor is able to repli­cate most of the muni­tions in the RAF inven­to­ry and also pose threats:

“For exam­ple, for elec­tron­ic war­fare train­ing I can input sur­face-to-air mis­sile sites into the soft­ware,” said Sqn Ldr Caine.

“The stu­dent pilot must react using the cor­rect tac­tics and pro­ce­dures to sur­vive.

“We are also going fur­ther than any­one else in the world in train­ing for Joint Strike Fight­er. We’ve cal­cu­lat­ed that we’ll save £200m over 25 years and pro­duce a bet­ter prod­uct at the end.”

Some 30 per cent of the civil­ian ground crew who main­tain the Hawk T2 fleet for Bab­cock Defence Ser­vices in a new pur­pose-built hangar are ex-reg­u­lars:

“The ex-mil­i­tary guys have the broad brush of engi­neer­ing expe­ri­ence which is great val­ue, par­tic­u­lar­ly in devel­op­ing the local work­force,” said Jim Boyd, T2 Oper­a­tions Man­ag­er.

These include Dave Shep­herd, the T2 Depart­ment Man­ag­er who left the RAF as a rig­ger in 1994 hav­ing served at Cottes­more, Finning­ley and in Ger­many:

“I’ve not been to a bet­ter place. We’re work­ing in a phe­nom­e­nal air­craft,” he said.

His views were echoed by anoth­er for­mer RAF reg­u­lar, Bri­an Cham­bers:

“These are def­i­nite­ly the best facil­i­ties I’ve worked in. I nev­er got to work on Typhoon and the T2 is the near­est I can get to it. Com­pared to the T1, the new air­craft is 100 per cent bet­ter. We like the jet.”

Press release
Min­istry of Defence, UK

More news and arti­cles can be found on Face­book and Twit­ter.

Fol­low GlobalDefence.net on Face­book and/or on Twit­ter

Team GlobDef

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist GlobalDefence.net im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. GlobalDefenc.net war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →