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Par Andre Demers
Product Marketing Manager
11 déc. 2018
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Putting aside realistic vehicle performance, immersive terrains, and intelligent computer-generated forces, one of the most fundamental requirements of a simulation is the concept of “fair fight”.

So, what is a fair fight? With regard to military training simulations, a fair fight occurs when a simulation does not provide an unfair advantage with two or more interconnected simulations. This advantage can apply to mapping/terrain, vehicle simulation model, weapons, weather, or any other aspect of the environment.

Here’s a straightforward example of an unfair fight: Two separate Abrams tank simulators are patrolling the same area. In one simulator, the Trainee #1 is confronted with a river that must be passed. In Trainee #2’s simulator, however, the river is not present in their environment. Whereas Trainee #1 must find a bridge or alternate path, Trainee #2 simply drives across where the river should be. The result is that one trainee received an unfair advantage despite both simulators using the same terrain or environment.

A fair fight occurs when a simulation does not provide an unfair advantage with two or more interconnected simulations

Another example of an unfair fight: Trainees are in their respective F-16 simulators engaging in a dogfight. Simulator #1 is unable to update the position of its opponent (Simulator #2) in real-time, thus displaying the enemy aircraft in an “old” position. This will make it virtually impossible for the trainee in Simulator #1 to ever properly aim and fire at the other aircraft in Simulator #2.

Why Fair Fights Aren’t the Norm

Whether it is inconsistent terrains or badly timed simulators as in the examples above, achieving a fair fight is as challenging as it is essential. A simulator that does not provide accurate, realistic, or even dependable training risks producing negative training.

So if it is so important to simulations, why is it such a challenge?

Unfortunately, there are as many answers to that question as there are types of simulations frameworks, data formats, terrain standards, communication protocols, and, of course, hardware.

The level of interoperability between simulations is a common cause of unfair fights – or, fair fight violations. Simulations can be interoperable on a network/connectivity level, a simulation/implementation level, or modeling and abstraction level. Achieving a fair fight requires interoperability across all these levels.

The interoperability between simulation databases, on the surface, seems like a straightforward task. Of course they need to be compatible, otherwise they become useless systems that breed negative training. If you are employing two or more simulators that use the same technology, same terrain database, and the same protocols, then there should be no fair fight violations.

Correlated Databases Are Your Friend

If one simulator is updated with a different terrain database, IG (image generator), or run-time, or if a user is attempting to combine simulators in a heterogeneous or mixed environment that share the same terrain, then violations become much more likely.

For example, an organization is connecting an Apache helicopter simulation to an Abrams tank simulator. This will likely be a mix of differing technologies since each simulator was purchased at a different time, uses different run-times and protocols. Because the user cannot change the technology the simulators are built on, it is important that both simulators are using the same terrain database.

That said, each simulator’s run-time might read the database differently, and render it in an inconsistent manner from one simulator to the other. How a run-time reads, interprets and displays data may not be the same. If the Apache simulator cannot support the volume of trees – for example – contained in the database and therefore only displays some of the trees, while the Abrams simulator displays all trees, then a violation occurs.

This LOD (level of detail) correlation issue is not only limited to different run-times but can also apply to terrain database formats as well. When using differing database formats, it is essential to ensure that they are correlated. For example, two terrain databases represent the exact same geographical coordinates, but one is in the OpenFlight format, and the other in JCATS. To be fair fight compliant, each one should contain the same data as the other. That is, buildings, trees, rivers, elevations, etc. should be identical. Furthermore, it is important that each database’s LODs are also correlated so that at certain distances, features or buildings are displayed consistently across all simulators.

Location. Location. Location.

Uncorrelated databases are not the only issues preventing fair fights. In our earlier example of two F-16s engaged in a dogfight simulation, we referenced locations. Where an aircraft, ship, vehicle, soldier, or any other entity is located in the environment is not only important visually, but when calculating the discharging of projectiles, or receipt of damage.

As one can imagine, fair fights depend greatly on timely location information. Entity locations are exchanged between simulators following specific protocols that ensure as few delays as possible to ensure accurate positioning and placement of entities across all simulators. Protocols such as HLA or DIS, amongst others, have dead reckoning techniques to predict entity positions in order to reduce the bandwidth consumption on a network.

So if fair fight is so important to simulations, why is it such a challenge?
Decisions, Decisions…

In addition to locations, another important aspect of fair fights in simulations is decisions.

Decisions to such questions as “was the target hit?”, “if not, what was hit?”, or “if so, is the target damaged? How much?” are taken by the shooter, and subsequently by the target.

Continuing with the example of the two F-16s engaged in a dogfight, once a missile is launched, the simulations engage in a series of calculations, decisions are made, and results displayed.

In the DIS protocol, for example, the simulator that launched the missile calculates the ordnance characteristics, its direction, speed, and where it will detonate. On detonation, the target’s simulator determines – using a scoring model – the projectile’s impact on the target, and how much damage was sustained – if any. This information is then displayed to the shooter’s simulator via DIS.

Of course, any delays in relaying information from one simulation to another would constitute a fair fight violation.

How Presagis Helps Fair Fights

Not that long ago, most database formats were proprietary and each simulator was required to use a different database to conform to each format. Now, with open formats like OGC CDB, simulators databases can read by other systems and follow industry standards with regard to DIS and HLA protocols.

Presagis products, such as Terra Vista™ simplify the task of achieving a fair fight by publishing to a wide range of formats. Terra Vista is able to use the same source data to compile and export to formats such as OpenFlight, OGC CDB, JCATS, and many others.

Doing this from a product like Terra Vista allows for a much greater level of correlation between databases of different formats not only in terms of features or terrains, but for LODs as well. By supporting a wide range of industry-standard data formats, image generators, and network simulation standards, Terra Vista is ideal for building or reusing virtual environments for ground, air, maritime, and urban military operations.

In our next blog, we will continue to explore the challenges of creating immersive training, and how far technology has come... and has yet to go.

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Tanks, hellicopters, infantry: The level of interoperability between simulations is a common cause of unfair fights – or, fair fight violations.

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