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Air Battlespace Training Centre

Air Battlespace Training Centre

The Air Battlespace Training Centre (ABTC) is based at RAF Waddington, Lincoln. It is an Air Command unit within the Chief of Staff Operations (COS Ops) area of responsibility.

The ABTC is a cutting edge synthetic training organisation. It provides a suite of networked synthetic training equipment to train UK Forces in demanding, operationally relevant environments and scenarios. It enables collaborative training across air, land and maritime domains for contingency operations. The synthetic exercises provided for pan Defence audiences offer a highly immersive but safe, credible and cost-effective environment for training. The provision of a 3-dimensional After Action Review is unique within UK Defence. The ABTC facility can be connected to other UK and NATO simulation facilities via the Joint Multinational Interoperability Assurance Network (JMNIAN).

The ABTC Team is a 40-strong workforce drawn from Army, RAF (Regular and Reserve) and contractor personnel from Inzpire, QinetiQ, Boeing and Plexys companies. This employee diversity underpins the team’s effectiveness and its ethos is “One Team – One Fight”. The Defence Equipment and Support team responsible for ABTC is the Flight Simulation and Synthetic Trainers Team (FsAST) based at Abbey Wood, Bristol. The ABTC Prime Contractor is QinetiQ, although the White Force Team provided by Inzpire is contracted directly by Headquarters Air Command and is independent of any equipment supplier. The ABTC is jointly funded by Army HQ and HQ Air. It is funded under the Distributed Synthetic Air Land Training (DSALT) 2 project until Sep 2019; plans are underway to extend funding until Sep 2020.

The ABTC was formed in 2005, initially as a Capability Concept Demonstrator to undertake conceptual and technical investigations into synthetic air training. Prior to 1 April 2008 it hosted the UK Mission Training through Distributed Simulation Capability Concept Demonstrator (MTDS CCD). A ‘lifed’ project due to terminate at the end of March 2008, the purpose of the MTDS CCD was to de-risk the use of synthetic training environments to deliver operational team and collective training for the air component of the Joint Battlespace. The CCD was completed as planned and the success of the programme led to the decision to retain the ABTC beyond 2008 to deliver the DSALT project. This Air-Land Integration initiative was focused primarily on the Pre-Deployment Training of Air and Land force elements deploying to Afghanistan.

The facility clearly demonstrated that valuable operational training could be delivered via synthetic means. From 2008, the DSALT project built upon the existing MTDS baseline, providing an interim capability for UK Air, Land and Maritime force elements in National and Coalition synthetic environments, focusing on Team, Collective, Joint and Combined operations training. As the requirement to train forces destined for Afghanistan reduced, the Air Battlespace Training Centre broadened its training portfolio. It now enables numerous contingent training serials and mission rehearsal exercises, predominantly for Air and Land trainees.

Within the ABTC there are a number of targeted-fidelity aircraft simulators which represent Typhoon, Tornado GR4 and E-3D platforms. Additionally a Fires Planning Cell area and 3 Fire Support Team training facilities allows the realistic and immersive representation of Joint Fires assets, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance and Close Air Support platforms at all levels. This allows for the practice of complex air-surface integration and battlespace management scenarios within pre-scripted training vignettes and missions. In this way, the facility ensures that the training objectives of any particular audience are met. The facility also uses man-in-the-loop desktop computers to control numerous synthetic helicopters, fighters, transport, and reconnaissance aircraft.

The ABTC conducts thirty eight weeks of joint collective training per year: nineteen weeks assigned to Exercise STEEL DRAGON which delivers essential Joint Fires contingency mission training for Royal Artillery units; the remaining weeks include Exercise VIGILANT CENTURION (Joint Fires training for RAF Force Protection units), Exercise VIRTUAL FURY (primarily air-to-air training for the Typhoon Force with supporting air elements and RN warship integration), Exercise VIRTUAL HATCHET (tactical Air Command and Control training for the UK Air Support Operations Centre), Exercise VIRTUAL MAGIC (distributed training for the NATO E-3 component), Exercise COALITION VIRTUAL FLAG (a multi-national distributed exercise), Exercise PANOPTICON WARRIOR (expert-level Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance training for pan-Defence trainees) and Exercise RED KITE (a UK/US bi-lateral distributed synthetic training initiative). The ABTC also hosts the planning and debriefing of various UK exercises run by the UK Air Warfare Centre.

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