Compiled by Ian Strachan
With drawdown of military forces from combat areas and decreasing military budgets, one might think that flight simulation activity would also decrease. However, the census results indicate continued support for training by simulation, with over 180 more flight simulators this year over 2012 for a new world total of 2341. Contrast this with our 2009 total – 1782.
There are increases in the first 10 top countries, which as usual are led by the USA by an enormous margin with 1132, followed by the UK with 122 and France with 115, then no less than 67 other countries from Algeria and Angola to Uruguay and Yemen. The USA also leads in increased numbers with 54 more than 2012, followed by 38 more in France (mainly helicopter simulators), 33 in Turkey (mainly new simulators from Havelsan of Ankara), 11 in Russia, 8 in the UK and 6 in Germany. New nations this year include Afghanistan and Macedonia.
Looking at aircraft roles, there are over 1060 simulators for fighter aircraft, including the ground attack role and advanced trainers with an attack capability. These are followed by 690 for rotary-wing aircraft (helicopters and the V-22 tilt-engine Osprey), 335 for large multi-engine aircraft and nearly 200 for basic trainers. Compared to last year, there are increases in all categories, 90 for the fighter group, 70 for rotary, 20 for large multi and 13 for basic trainers.
On motion systems, there are over 560 simulators with 6-axis motion, mostly for helicopters and large multi-engined aircraft, 20 more than last year. However, there are some 1460 simulators without a motion platform. These are mainly from the fighter group but there are also some deployable trailer-mounted helicopter simulators.
Some simulators without motion platforms have simulator-specific motion seats, some fighter simulators have Anti-G-Suit inflation and high-G visual dimming, and some helicopter simulators have vibration devices. But these motion-cueing enhancements are relatively rare. Only 22% of helicopter simulators have vibration cueing, and only 10% of fighter simulators have Anti-G-suit inflation Very few have high-G visual dimming. Less than 10% of simulators without motion platforms have motion seats.
In contrast, almost all multi-engined aircraft simulators have full 6-axis platform motion.
Turning now to display channels, as in previous years 3 and 5 channel visuals are most popular. Compared to last year there are nearly 80 more 3-channel and 30 new 5-channel systems. There is a near doubling of over-10 channel systems to nearly 150, showing a desire in fighter simulators for almost complete 360 degree outside-world visual cover.
Another area of progress is in Local Area Networks (LAN) and off-base Wide Area Networks (WAN). Only a few years ago most simulators were stand-alone devices, but the tables this year show that 55% can be networked, 30% with WAN for use with other simulators and, in pre-planned exercises, not only with other training aids but with land, sea and air vehicles themselves.
Looking at other simulator characteristics, just over 200 are mobile, either mounted in deployable containers or otherwise transportable. Nearly 80 are specifically designed for the US Air Force networked Distributed Mission Operations (DMO) programme, nearly 50 are used mainly for research, and 40 have Roll-on Roll-off cockpits, enabling completely different types of aircraft to be trained on one motion base, computer and visual system. Finally there are about 45 disorientation trainers with full freedom in yaw, and some 30 centrifuges for training in G-induced Loss of Consciousness (G-LOC).
|484||L-3 Link USA||USA||20.7|
Who makes these simulators? The table shows L-3 Link USA well in the lead, followed by CAE and Thales. The first eleven companies are the same as last year, with an increase of 40 made by Lockheed Martin and nearly 25 each by Boeing and Thales. 12th in the table is Turkish company Havelsan with 33 more than last year, moving up 15 places. Overall, 68 companies are included, but 17 of these no longer make simulators and their products will probably soon go out of service. With increases in simulation technology, military simulation is becoming a more specialised market.
There are over 180 more military flight simulators than last year out of a world total of nearly 2350. There are particular increases in the USA, France and Turkey, in the fighter area, and in helicopter simulators with vibration cueing. Growth is also evident in electric motion, transportable devices, simulators with replaceable cockpits, and networking to other devices.