Geospatial technologies are employed to create 3D terrains of various types in a virtual reality domain. The idea is to make training as realistic as possible for the soldier
The galloping pace of geospatial technologies is proving to be a great enabler and a training facilitator. The relevance of such technologies is particularly visible in two functional domains in ground-based air-defence training. These include enhancing realism in training and automating the erstwhile manual and archaic procedures which are not only time consuming and inflexible but also far divorced from reality. The article looks at some such technologies in play.
Radar Coverage Effectiveness Evaluator
The 2D Game: In an era of 2D maps (both in the WGS–84 or India-Bangladesh Datum), the method to display a typical radar beam coverage was to draw the range roundels Manpad Simulator designer/ OEM provided coverage data relevant to a particular rangeheight band). This coverage was further modulated through manually calculated clutter and screening details based on the angular elevation and spread of visible/ non-visible obstacles to the radar beam. The resultant coverage obtained was not only unrealistic but also inaccurate because the occult interplay between the radar beam and the terrain contours could not be accurately assessed.
GIS Enablement: Today, GIS technologies combined with Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) provide opportunities to evaluate radar beam blockage and other ground clutter phenomenon1. These technologies use the potential of the GIS to present topographic information in all its digital details while specially developed software tools and programmes provide the technical signatures of the radar ordered to the desired rangeheight matrix as defined by the user. With these inputs in hand, the system then executes an interplay between the ‘technical radar signatures’ and the GIS created ‘3D ground’. The resultant output is the radar coverage diagrams which are accurate to the core. The great advantage of such an interplay is the inherent flexibility and dynamism provided to the user to check out any number of radar sites for their comparative merit (this comparison is also software driven as well as dynamic) besides having the power to generate real-time changes in coverage pattern when the radar origin is moved on a mouse-click within the permissible area of deployment, other variables remaining constant. Good sites/ not so good sites/ poor sites/ overlap, etc., become eminently visible and hence exploitable. This was unimaginable on 2D static map-based display2.
The erstwhile method of generating weapon envelopes and weapon deployment choices in order to address a particular air threat was an elaborate and a manual process of paper-based planning. This was archaic, besides being time consuming and inflexible. Also, the manual procedure were neither open to dynamic changes nor flexible to comparing multiple deployment choices in real-time. Most of the earlier requirements can now be met by GIS based technologies and 3D analysis systems. Such systems provide advanced visualisation, analysis and surface generation tools which permit viewing large sets of data in three dimensions from multiple view points, ability to query a surface and create realistic perspective images that drapes raster and vector data over an entire surface.
Exploitation: By exploiting such technologies, 3D virtual maps can be created of the type of terrain over which the training is to be imparted. On such terrains, the technical dimensions of the air threat — to include the technical nuances of the air threat, ranges, heights, weapon types (conventional/ PGMs), stand-off ranges, flight path details, etc., as well as the technical prowess of Ground Based AD Weapon System (GBADWS) in terms of ranges, heights, types of ammunition, kill effectiveness, etc., are interplayed by the system in ‘oneon- one’ and ‘one-on-many’ modes. This interplay provides effectiveness details of the GBADWS envelopes in taking on the threat. It also provides a comparison tool to check out, compare and optimise the deployment details through change in weapon types on their locations in real-time.
Total Effect Simulation: The progression for the above stated deployment simulation is the total effect simulation. Such systems work on two side simulation, that is, both from the attacker as well as defender. For the former, the system will input various threat capabilities such as ranges, throw-weight, ammunition effectiveness, day/ night operation limits, ECM muscle, etc. For pitching the capabilities of the defender, it inputs ground air defence weapon capabilities in the form of its technical signature, and effectiveness against the threat. The simulator is then played with the defenders utilising their sensors, combat and C2 means in a synergetic fashion. The effectiveness of the defender in optimising their weapons to ward off the threat as a package is accurately calculated and re-playable.
Very Short range Air Defence (VSHORAD) Simulators: A marriage between VSHORAD launch techniques and ability to create virtual realities exploiting GIS technologies enables the realisation of VSHORAD (Man Portable air defence System (MANPADS)) simulators. Some details:-
The Challenge: VSHORAD SAM systems comprising variety of short range, man-portable/ pedestal mounted heat seeking (Igla1M, Igla-S), laser guided (RBS-70/Bolide), laser/ proximity/ impact (Mistral), hit-to-kill HVM/ laser guided (Star Streak) missiles, etc. have strong simulation requirements. This is so because the operators needs repetitive multiple practice on laying the missile, tracking the target steadily, identification of launch zone and steady launch in hostile EW environment.
Solution: Most VSHORAD makers offer generic simulator solutions, for example, the Konus simulator offered by Rosoboronexport can also be used for training of RBS-70/NG even3. The latest in the field is to produce a weapon effect signature simulator which replicates the launch signature of many types of shoulder-fired surface- to-air missiles. The replication includes the weight/ jerk/ vibration feel, self consuming pyrotechnic that replicates the real effect but leaves no residual projectile. All this is projected against a virtually created environment giving a 3D effect of the launch space, multiple target movement with attendant visual light and sound clues enabling training in evasive actions-counter actions. Effect enhancers like actual/ created weather or time-of-the day help in enhancing further realism4.
Another very exciting use of GIS based enablement is in the design of Aircraft Recognition (ACR) simulators, an important training area for air defence warriors. In this scenario, GIS based technologies are employed to create 3D terrains of various types in a virtual reality domain. On such terrains, deployments of GBADWS can be depicted. The trainee, located virtually in such terrains, is presented with unpredictable movement of a variety of aerial threat vehicles. The challenge is to recognise the threat in real-time. Weather/ terrain/ time of the day, etc., can be superimposed. The feel of training is as good as real.
GIS based technologies can also be used to generate live video streaming of an area of interest by placing GPS/ GIS enabled tools (video camera, GPS and integrating software) on board aerial vehicles such as aeromodels/ hover platforms, etc. Such vehicles and platforms can be made to fly/ hover over an area of interest and provide a live video. Riding on the enabling power of cutting edge technologies provided by GIS and marrying them up with weapon based expertise is producing amazing solutions for realistic training.
1.[HTML] Radar Beam Occultation Studies Using GIS and DEM Technology : An Example Study of Guam [HTML], PA Kucera, WF Krajewski- journals.ametsoc.org
2.Military Applications of GIS. www.gisdevelopment.net/application/ military…/ militaryf0002pf.htm
3.Worldwide-defence.blogspot. com/…/sa-24-grinch_Igla_S_manpad- data…
4.www.flightglobal. com>News>space> Manned space flight