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Live-Virtual-Constructive (LVC) Training: Then & Now

By Andre Demers
Product Marketing Manager
Jan 15th 2019
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In the world of military training, defense organizations across the world are increasingly employing live-virtual-constructive (LVC) training environments in their training programs. It’s cutting-edge, saves money, and pushes the boundaries of conventional training. So what is LVC Training, exactly?

Each letter is a designation of the type of environment the trainee is experiencing while undergoing training. Here is a quick rundown to get us situated:

  • Live: Training that occurs in a real aircraft or vehicle, with real or training weapons. Visuals, opposing forces, and communications are real. Example: Pilot in real plane, performing formation training with other pilots in real planes.
  • Virtual: The trainee is a real person training in the virtual environment. Environments, vehicles, aircraft and weapons are simulated. Visuals are computer-generated. Example: Pilots performing formation training. Each wingman in formation is an actual pilot in their own simulator.
  • Constructive: Most often combined with virtual training, constructive adds the element of computer-generated forces (CGF) to control entities, opposing forces, allies, and so on. They can be understood as Artificial Intelligence-controlled (AI) avatars or vehicles. Example: Pilot performing formation training in simulator and wingmen are computer-controlled.

Each of these designations are not mutually exclusive and can be combined with one another to enhance training by layering tasks or complexities. In the Constructive example above, there is a mix of virtual and constructive training because there is a human pilot in the equation interacting with computer-controlled pilots.

Of course, nothing can replace live training, but technology is helping close the gap.

Embedded training, which we will discuss later on, combines live, virtual, and constructive in an innovative manner to achieve a very sophisticated level of training.

The benefits to LVC training are clear:

  • Decreased costs in displacement of people and equipment, fuel, and ammunition
  • Increased safety
  • Flexibility to produce multitudes of scenarios, in any type of environment in any weather – day or night.
  • Create larger exercises with a larger variety of players – such as opposing forces with vehicles and weapons – not accessible in live training.

Of course, nothing can replace live training, but technology is helping close the gap.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these components to better understand the technology associated with LVC training.

VIRTUAL TRAINING: In this example, all aircraft are piloted through a ground-based simulator.

Live Training

Real platforms, real equipment, real vehicles, real soldiers, real… well, you get it.

In live training, a human has the capacity to take information that is occurring in real-life (such as location, altitude, speed, etc.) and connect it to real life situations.

A purely live training has no virtual components. So if, for example, a pilot is flying an aircraft, all communications, and visuals are real as is the plane’s altitude and speed.

Virtual Training

This type of training uses simulation – in part or in whole – to create a virtual training environment. Ground-based flight simulators, vehicle simulators, weapon simulators, sensor simulators, and dismounted soldier VR trainers are all common types of virtual training.

A strict requirement of virtual training is the “human-in-the-loop”. That is, a human must be making decisions that drive or control one, several, or all aspects of the simulation. The classic example is the flight simulator; although the controls or cockpit might be real, the views, controls, movement, and environment are all virtual, but the pilot’s decisions control the virtual plane and its components.

In virtual training, if another vehicle or aircraft is involved in the training, such as in a dogfight, a human also controls the opponent.

It is common, however, to mix live training with either virtual elements, constructive elements, or both. However, before broaching these combinations, let us get into constructive training.

VIRTUAL+ CONSTRUCTIVE TRAINING: The aircraft in this example is piloted through ground-based simulator. Opposing forces are computer-generated as is the terrain/world representation.

Constructive Training

When soldiers, vehicles, aircraft, ships, communications, or any entities are being controlled by a computer, and making their own decisions, you have constructive training. Contrary to pure, virtual training, constructive training contains elements where a human is “out-of-the-loop”, and decisions are made by the AI, or following a specified doctrine. An example of pure constructive training that doesn’t involve a human would be a battle simulation that is used for analysis. In that case, the only role the human has is to press ‘play’.

CGF software provides the building blocks for creating tactical simulations requiring more than one entity.

The idea behind constructive training is to eliminate role-play stations. In the past, trainers would spend hours and hours with trainees at a station controlling scenarios, responses, and opponents. By introducing constructive training, the role of the trainer is greatly minimized, and scenarios and doctrines are created and run on a simulator without the need for human intervention using computer-generated forces (CGF) software, such as Presagis STAGE.

CGF software provides the building blocks for creating tactical simulations requiring more than one entity. At the highest level, CGF lets users not only import 3D terrain formats to allow terrain interaction, but add platforms to a simulation, including:

  • Specific areas of interest
  • Mission editing functionality
  • Equipping platforms with sensors, weapons, comms and counter measures.
  • Varying levels of fidelity of each simulated model

CGF software has a very wide range of uses and can be deployed in the following ways:

  • As a threat generator,
  • In tandem with other customized behavior scripts or AI software,
  • As a test environment for custom behaviors and vehicle dynamics,
  • Embedded within another simulation,
  • Or, as a front-end to a simulation application, for example an instructor/operator (IOS) station.

With constructive training, the CGF is able to animate entities and create behaviors to move them – whether it is a simple set-up, a large crowd, or a complex multi-domain battle scenario. A constructive training system will often contain a decision tree that dictates which entity goes where and when. It is not rare that several CGFs are put together in a training simulation in order to control different aspects of the training. One CGF, for example, can control hundreds of troops on the ground, while another CGF pilots planes, and yet another naval vessels. When all of the CGFs are launched and begin controlling their various entities, that data is pushed to the simulators in a transparent manner so that the trainee is not aware of the various CGF divisions across the network.

Bringing it All Together

When all components of LVC are used together, the virtual simulation will see all of the parts of the constructive training whether it be visual or radio messages, just as the live training will see targets and events in its simulated sensors.

The key to connecting the LVC components is the use of standard network protocols for simulation. Using standards such as Distributed Interactive Simulation (DIS) and High Level Architecture (HLA) with agreed upon object models, each component of the LVC can share its status, position, actions and compute the effects of the other entities on every participating entity.

At the core of these protocols is the definition of data ownership and a common environment. The data ownership will define which component is deciding on the status of the training. From simply publishing the position of an entity to deciding on the impact of the weapon detonation on multiple entities in proximity or the detection of a sensor, defining the ownership enables coherent training and fair fight.

Also contributing to the fair fight is a common synthetic representation of the terrain. Such representation enables coherent training by having every training systems share a terrain representation with the same terrain profile, building locations, shapes, etc. Open standards in terrain, such as OGC CDB, facilitate the sharing of terrain data across heterogeneous training systems.

Presagis products are invaluable in the creation of LVC training.

Presagis products are invaluable in the creation of LVC training.

Creator and Terra Vista work hand-in-hand to create sites, buildings, and terrains so users can produce immersive synthetic training environments with the help of Vega Prime visualization software. Beyond the creation of terrain, Terra Vista is instrumental in helping create correlated terrains. Lack of correlated terrain between CGFs and virtual trainers is one of the most common causes for a failed LVC exercise or a fair-fight violation. Terra Vista lets users find the optimal way to publish a database to different formats to ensure correlation.

FlightSIM and HeliSIM let users create high-fidelity virtual flight models for both fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft, while the Ondulus family simulates (live, virtual and constructive) radar, infrared, and night-vision sensors using physics-based rendering. Also, UAV CRAFT makes use of all these technologies –virtual and constructive – to provide a UAV operator with a high-fidelity, high-performance simulator.

Pulling it all together is STAGE – an indispensable tool in the creation of true-to-life scenarios. STAGE lets users create dynamic environments with natural character and vehicle behavior that can be further enhanced with complex interactions, communications, and realistic engagements. STAGE can be used to control:

  • Articulated Parts
  • Atmospheric
  • Countermeasures
  • Defense Capabilities
  • Detailed Building
  • Detonation
  • Formation
  • Heat systems
  • IFF
  • Impact Levels
  • Laser Designator
  • Radio
  • Sensors
  • Special Zone
  • Supplies and Weapons impact levels

MIXED LIVE + VIRTUAL + CONSTRUCTIVE TRAINING: In this example, a live, real aircraft joins a virtual aircraft piloted through ground-based simulator. Opposing forces are computer-generated as is the terrain/world representation.

Embedded Training

Unlike conventional LVC training, embedded training brings the virtual and constructive components into the live component.

Presagis is currently using several products, such as STAGE, Ondulus IR, and Ondulus Radar, to bring both the virtual and constructive components into the live environment, that is, on board the aircraft with the pilot.

STAGE – an integral component of constructive training – is currently being used in embedded training as well conventional LVC training to simulate on board controls, sensors, coordinate virtual elements between simulations and control entities. For example, if a group of (real) aircraft are flying in formation and fire on a target, STAGE creates the simulated counterpart to stimulate a (virtual) HUD, (virtual) sensors, (virtual) weapon firing and the subsequent damage calculations as well as control virtual friendlies and opponents.

Ondulus IR and Ondulus Radar are being used on board the aircraft to accurately replace real multi-million dollar pieces of equipment to ensure that pilots are able to train with high-fidelity radar and IR sensors. It is an extremely cost-effective way to have a pilot manage (on board) their environment, the threat, IFF, and interpret radar images, scan or operate the instruments that they will face in a real fighter plane while training on a lower cost (training) aircraft.

EXAMPLE OF EMBEDDED TRAINING: A live, real aircraft is equipped with software and hardware that will generate and control opposing forces.

LVC Training Embedded Training
A) A live component, for example, a pilot flying in a fighter jet. B) A virtual component, a pilot in a simulator on the ground in a facility, C) And an instructor station that is controlling other aircraft (via CGF), friendly and enemy. A) A live component, for example, a pilot flying in a fighter jet. B) Targets, weapons, radar, and HUD symbols are virtualized in the aircraft. C) Scenarios and opponents are also on board to provide targets, enemies, or friendly forces nearby to the virtual displays.
Advantages: You can try new things, new procedures, new doctrines, in a safe manner. Non-fatal. Advantages: Capable of knowing a pilot’s capabilities, capacities and limits (physical)… maneuvers, speed, and so on.

Although embedded training has existed for over 10-15 years, the demand for it is steadily on the rise as the benefits and opportunities for this type of training increase, and its associated costs decrease.

Computers are getting smaller and more powerful, and their footprint no longer requires a specialized pod under a wing to implement. As mentioned above, the ability to replace expensive equipment with realistic simulators is a strong benefit.

On the operational side, embedded training is able to achieve a higher level of realism than a conventional simulator. In the case of an aircraft, the pilot will experience all the physical rigors of actual flight in addition to the challenge of engaging in a conflict. The opponents, targets, sensors, weapons, and HUD displays and readings are virtual, but the physical demands on the body are real and serve as an excellent indicator of readiness to an instructor.

Going forward, Presagis is exploring innovative ways enhance embedded training. Using augmented reality, embedded training could be further heightened by adding virtual elements to the real-life visuals being experienced by the pilot. Hence, virtual elements such as friendly forces, or opponents or targets would be visible out of the window, since they are fused with reality.

Another development on the horizon is embedded training in a squadron or formation so that all pilots can share the same scenario and same virtual and constructive elements in order to train coordination, rules of engagement, etc.

Summary

From embedded training in live vehicles, to simulated large-scale engagements in a synthetic environment, there is no limit to what can be achieved using LVC training. The world’s top defense organizations rely on LVC to hone training and ensure preparedness – regardless of weather, location, or scenario.

In our next article, we are going to explore the challenges of creating large-scale environments. It may seem a straightforward task when you only depict rolling hills, and forests. But what if you have a megacity complete with high-rises, bridges, highways, and airports?

Well, that’s where we can help…

Where Can We Help?

Presagis tools are powerful yet flexible and have helped companies, organizations, and governments worldwide create the virtual environments and cockpit designs of tomorrow.

Learn more about the industries, segments and business activities where Presagis products can make your projects real.