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Royal Canadian Air Force Sees More Sims In the Future of Fighter Pilot Training

Unknown Lamer posted about a year ago | from the in-case-of-cyber-war dept.

Canada 125

dakohli writes "Currently, Canadian Fighter Pilots spend about 20% of their 'stick' time in Simulators. RCAF General Blondin states that this will rise to 50/50 in the future. The article goes on to state that the U.S. Army is moving in this direction, although the U.S. Air Force is a little more skeptical. Aircraft are expensive to fly, and if the fidelity of a simulator is good enough then perhaps real pilots will spend even less time actually in the air. Slashdotters, do you think that this will actually make recruiting pilots more difficult, or is it a sign of the things to come beyond Military Aviation?"

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125 comments

Flight Sim Tech Here (4, Interesting)

Pikoro (844299) | about a year ago | (#42793149)

The fidelity is already there. Flight time in the sim is nearly as good as the real thing, especially considering when you are up on a motion platform.

The sims are great for procedure training since you can simulate failures which would be expensive or impossible to simulate in a real aircraft. More sim time = less cash spent on keeping the real aircraft in the air but with the same amount (or more) experience for the pilot being retained.

No, it's really not. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42793355)

For the record, I'm a military aviator, and I've got plenty of experience in both sims and the actual aircraft.

For some platforms, yes, the sims are just fine. Less dynamic platforms (i.e. helicopters, big wing) work just fine with full motion platforms. It will never be "perfect." Many of the imperfections manifest in ways that are inherent in simplified programming, i.e. actually modeling fluid dynamics for how the jet handles with failed systems vs. just hard coding that things "will" or "wont" work at certain airspeeds.

For tactical aircraft, however, there is absolutely no comparison. Yes, basic flight operations (taking off, landing, navigating) can be done relatively decently, but tactical flying (g-force, sun blind spots, etc) cannot be replicated in anything remotely resembling our current simulators.

Not to mention that most tactical simulators dont include motion. A "full motion" sim can't replicate more than 1.0 G in any given direction, much less a sustained 5g pull. The technology simply doesn't exist.

So do simulators have their uses? Absolutely. But there is no substitute for real flight time, and until we get some Star Trek -esque technology at our disposal, there won't be.

Re:No, it's really not. (1)

Tacticus.v1 (1102137) | about a year ago | (#42793437)

when you talk about the full motion sims are you talking about the ones that are effectively chairs on the end of robot arms? or different styles?

Re:No, it's really not. (5, Informative)

CRC'99 (96526) | about a year ago | (#42793467)

For the record, I'm a military aviator, and I've got plenty of experience in both sims and the actual aircraft.

For the record, I'm a commercial pilot.

Simulators have their place - but it is certainly nowhere near the experience as a real aircraft. Speaking from a commercial background, simulators are great at two things:
1) Procedure
2) Techniques

Simulators are great in showing pilots how things work. Want to know what to expect in a fogged in approach to an airport and are learning how to use the ILS etc? A simulator is *great* in this role. You can do things in this combo that are GREAT for education. Does it come anywhere close to the real thing? Hell no.

The other thing that simulators excel at is teaching things such as instrument scans - basically train you to keep an eye on all your instruments at the same time by developing an effective scan of them. No pilot flying on instruments will use a single instrument - flying is very complex and cannot be done like this. An effective instrument scan (A/H -> Airspeed -> A/H -> Altitude -> A/H -> VSI -> A/H -> DG etc) is very hard to grasp when first starting - and it is the bread and butter that keeps pilots alive when the weather is starting to deteriorate or you start to fly faster and bigger aircraft.

Your standard 737 pilot will probably spend about 15 minutes out of every flight looking out the windows. The rest is monitoring instrumentation. I cannot understate how important this skill is - and simulators are perfect at developing those skills.

So are simulators replacement for a real aircraft though? Nowhere near. Simulators should be treated as an addition to inflight training - not as a replacement for it.

Re:No, it's really not. (2)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about a year ago | (#42793815)

Combat flying is probably quite a bit different. I'm just an air warfare buff, so I have no firsthand knowledge but fighter pilots are very focused on what's going on outside the cockpit. They have to learn to scan for aircraft w/ or w/o a radar cue, tactics that are all about your position in relation to other aircraft, and obviously using weapon systems.

A coworker interned with the military on some secret missile tech 15 years ago (I suspect he was working with HARM trajectories from what I could glean) and he said the guys who ran the simulators were far better at evading SAMs than actual pilots because of all the sim time they had. Come to think of it, he said the actual pilots were pretty abysmal at evading them which is a tactic best rehearsed on a simulator!

Re:No, it's really not. (3, Interesting)

Loki_1929 (550940) | about a year ago | (#42794331)

If you're looking out the window for your enemy in a modern air combat situation, you're either about to die or lots of people screwed up in lots of ways.

Nobody has given much thought to non-BVR air combat in about 10 years and for good reason. First sight, first shot, first kill. That's the whole idea of stealth and advanced detection systems for fighters: I'm harder to see, so I see you first, so I shoot first, so I go home minus one long range missile. That's why a $140 Million F-22 makes more sense than three $40 Million Eurofighters. Once the fight is over, nobody got within 40 miles of an enemy and all you have to tally up is the cost of three planes and three trained fighter pilots versus the cost of three missiles and some gas.

Re:No, it's really not. (1)

Rich0 (548339) | about a year ago | (#42795349)

I tend to agree. Everybody points to the Vietnam war as proof that dogfighting will never die, but my sense is that they simply got the timing wrong. There hasn't really been much in the way of dogfighting since - at least not with modern aircraft like those fielded by the US.

Load a stealthy drone up with really good radar, missiles, and a liberal rule of engagement and I suspect it will dominate the skies just fine, even if it takes 15 minutes to turn a circle (assuming the missiles/radar have 360deg coverage - never really got the point in having to aim your plane to aim your weapons).

Re:No, it's really not. (2)

mabhatter654 (561290) | about a year ago | (#42795397)

But if two $40 mil planes shoot down one $140 mil plane you are ahead in the next round.

Part of the issue with Sims is that planes are SO expensive now we can't keep enough pilots ready to fly them. Back to your example, they have three ready pilots to one... The amount of things that go wrong on these expensive planes without being shot at evens the odds a bit while your pilot waits for another plane.

Also, the US military is really trained to fight Russia or China.. About the only countries that can put equivalent aircraft in the sky... So the other European countries just need planes for external threats... The occasional Middle East operation... They have no intension of going against USA, China, or Russia head on.

Re:No, it's really not. (1)

dywolf (2673597) | about a year ago | (#42796219)

BVR combat is great when it works...but every time any air force has focused on it to the detriment of its opposite, it's bitten them in the ass.

Re:No, it's really not. (2)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about a year ago | (#42796249)

That's why a $140 Million F-22 makes more sense than three $40 Million Eurofighters.

Plus the F22 is much easier to simulate. Just put the trainee in an hypobaric chamber until they pass out.

Re:No, it's really not. (1)

asylumx (881307) | about a year ago | (#42795711)

I cannot understate how important this skill is

Either you meant to say "I cannot overstate" or you don't think this skill is very important.

Re:No, it's really not. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42793545)

Im also a military aviator, and "for the record" helicopters are a hell of a lot more dynamic than all those "F" series bombers. Tactical? what, flying circles at fl230 and waiting for a non pilot to tell you to drop a jdam? yeah, must be hell, no way a simulator can give that realistic feel of pushing buttons and doing the darth vader on the radio.

    Go listen to some bad music and choke down that cock flavored bourbon you all seem to love.

Re:No, it's really not. (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about a year ago | (#42793705)

I second the parent.

Here at McChord AFB, we fly the C17.

Sure, there are many things you can practice in the sim.

But there are many more things that simply require the actual aircraft in actual conditions.

Re:No, it's really not. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42793931)

For military aviation, the biggest hurdle we face in sim technology is not the fidelity of the individual device (some are better than others, but it's just a question of getting to the newest tech), but connecting them. Can't do realistic in-flight refueling until you're linked up MMORPG style with a tanker crew thousands of miles away. Without being able to "check that box" in the sim, you still need to fly, so you end up filling lots of other boxes you could have done in the sim.

So getting from individual sims to massively linked sims is the current way forward... problem is that it's not quick or cheap (for a myriad of other reasons shared with most military acquisition programs in addition to the actual technical hurdles of interfaces, lag, etc).

But it's very clear that every hour that can be safely moved from the aircraft to a sim saves a ga-zillion dollars in flight time (ga-zillion being a fancy military term), and the senior leadership (at least in the big aircraft world) gets that and is trying to push for the best sims they reasonably can.

Re:No, it's really not. (3, Interesting)

SplashMyBandit (1543257) | about a year ago | (#42794097)

\Not true. IEEE 1278.1-1998 DIS has been out for a long time (first version of the spec in 1993). It is designed to have massive numbers of interacting agents. Even on a Pentium II you could get a thousand clients connecting. How do I know this? I'm currently writing a multi-threaded cross-platform modern jet combat simulator (using Java 7+OpenGL/JOGL+OpenAL+JInput+OpenDIS, if you must know) and having a lot of clients and CGF (Computer Generated Forces) is well within the capabilities of one of the 8-core AMD CPUs you can get. The performance of OpenGL and modern multi-threaded Java is outstanding (compared to the existing single-threaded C++ jet combat simulations currently on the civilian market; the DCS series and Falcon BMS).

My understand is that many military aircraft these days (and certainly the simulators) have hardware support for IEEE 1278.1 so pilots can learn to operate cockpit in a massively networked environment. Hence, it appears your post is speculation rather - because the military have been able to have extensive simulated engagements for a long time - although a particularly royal air force was interested in the characteristics of the 80-player (40 a side) battles we were able to host in the Eagle Dynamics Flaming Cliffs 2 simulator.

Re:No, it's really not. (3, Informative)

Solandri (704621) | about a year ago | (#42795665)

A previous company I worked at helped create 1278.1 (DIS). And you're correct that it's able to handle massive numbers of simulated entities interacting (easily tens of thousands; I think they managed one sim with over 100,000 entities in the mid-1990s). The crucial difference from the simulated shared environment most of us are familiar with (online games) is that the participants don't cheat. Hacking your client so it doesn't operate as programmed defeats the purpose of running a sim. Whereas in a game it's frequently in the player's best interest to cheat by hacking their client.

So in an online game, all the position, movement, actions, and collisions have to be handled by a centralized server to make it impossible to cheat. With DIS, each client calculates its own interactions and simply multicasts the consequences (e.g. movement changes) to all the other sim participants. e.g. The F-16 sim tells everyone it drops a bomb from its location with this trajectory. The M1A2 tank sim uses that to calculate that it was hit and destroyed, and it tells everyone "I'm dead now."

Since all these calculations are distributed, your computing power scales with the number of participants, unlike an online game where the server computing power is fixed. And the primary limitation on scalability is how much traffic the network can handle (the spec calls for a very minimal packet size, and a lot of work went into decreasing the frequency with which an individual sim needed to multicast updates).

Re:No, it's really not. (1)

ILongForDarkness (1134931) | about a year ago | (#42793761)

I think g-force is the biggest one. We had simulators that tilted and shaked back when Afterburner was new. Still doesn't mean I'd know what I'm doing or be able to do the movements I want to under 6 gs in any random direction.

Re:No, it's really not. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42793775)

I don't remember any sims in Star Trek that simulated in-flight g's. But then again they use artifical gravity for everything, so not much in the way of g forces to train for.

Perhaps the real lesson here is that we just need better inertial dampers and artifical gravity generators for our fighters.

Re:No, it's really not. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42794025)

Retired military aviator here.

I agree 100%. Sims are great for a lot of stuff, and have value even in tactical flying. There is a lot of HOTAS muscle memory that you can develop in the sim, but it does little to replicate the sensation or complexity of real flight. Sitting in a sim at 1.0G and correctly interpreting a radar scope is completely different than doing it while sweating, pulling g's, etc.

I have never experienced cognitive time compression/expansion in the simulator, but experienced it in the jet numerous times.

Re:No, it's really not. (1, Funny)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | about a year ago | (#42794555)

For the record, I'm a military aviator, and I've got plenty of experience in both sims and the actual aircraft.

For the record, I flew hand built RC planes about 10 years ago. This qualifies me to comment on all aspects of aviation, both military and commercial.

Re:No, it's really not. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42794681)

As someone who studied to be a Airframe & powerplant mechanic, I'm thinking the incurred maintenance costs are actually good training for mechanics and also tell you if the A/Cs have maintenance issue that would better sorted out during piece time then wartime. Also, many A/C issues are discovered only after the A/C have been flying for 1000s of hours. So how do they plan on keeping the enough mechanics truly proficient at their jobs. Yes, I realize mechanics have it easier they have plenty of time to think and in many cases can go back fix mistakes which pilots just can't do but in combat you want mechanics who can quickly and accurately tear down and rebuild a plane.

Re:No, it's really not. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42795837)

I design simulators, and at the risk of being accused of pushing my product (OK, so I'm pushing my product): http://www.etctacticalflight.com/ [etctacticalflight.com]

For tactical training, the sims are getting better. We've had many active duty military pilots fly our centrifuges, and they almost all walk away enthused about the possibility of replacing flight time with time in one of these./p>

Generally they're hesitant at first, because they're required to spend some time in centrifuges periodically (yearly?) to prove their ability to withstand elevated G-levels. In these machines, they sit in a seat and go along for some predetermined motion profile, sometimes without even having an out-the-window scene to explain the motion they are feeling. Motion sickness is not uncommon./p>

The new flight simulator centrifuges, however, include flight dynamics models and respond to pilot inputs just like any other simulator. For some maneuvers, there are definitely motion artifacts, but for many others, the centrifuge does a really good job of replicating the sensations experienced in the aircraft. Pilots never get sick in our machines. With the high cost of flight time (fuel + maintenance), 50/50 flight to sim time might be a good target to maintain flight crew capability while reducing expenses./p>

Re:Flight Sim Tech Here (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42793475)

I am currently serving as a tactical jet aviator. These sims are very good for doing the repetitive, the part-task training needed to drive home the foundational habits and mechanics of whichever mission one may be training to. The ability to stop, analyze, play out and (lather, rinse) repeat is a very important component in building the abilities of a tactical aviator. To be sure, you wouldn't train to be a baseball player simply by playing scrimmage games. You simply don't get the repetition to effectively build skills. That said, a football player who had only worked out, done tackling drills and studied the playbook would not be ready for a real game, either.

These sims are not, generally, capable of replicating either the variety of stressors that occur in actual training missions (not to mention combat), nor the physiological strains that actual flight places on the pilot. This is why (with some currency consideration) flight experience remains the single biggest correlator to performance in the tactical cockpit. Flight, even a training sortie, is an exercise in decision making under uncertainty while under time, physical and emotional stresses. It can be replicated in no simulator system I've ever been in (and that's quite a few). Try thinking about your next move in a game of speed chess when your head weighs 150 lbs or so and the board is above (or behind) you. A computer game with a super-fancy motion gimbal or wraparound screen really doesn't help you there.

Not to mention that the graphical fidelity isn't "there" yet. Nothing except finding small fighters with your eyes based on your best cuing prepares you for doing that task. Yes, in this modern day and age, you still have to be able to learn to visually pick up your adversaries. It's a skill--and it has to be practiced like any other. With the miracles of modern sensors comes the counter-miracles of modern countermeasures. The first tally will probably net the kill in these cases. You can't really do that in the sim.

The day may be coming where these things are good enough for the lion's share of the training time. But it's not today, and I can pretty confidently say it's not tomorrow, either. Until the tech truly gets there, it's a panacea for those wishing to find "efficiencies" in training budgets. You'll save money, but as some point you'll wonder why guys (and gals) aren't developing right and can't seem to buy situational awareness in the cockpit. For those who don't know, this means off-target bombs in combat, stupid mishaps and poor readiness for fights we don't really want to get into, but need to be ready for.

In short--It depends on what you do. Fly airlines from A to B? Bueno! But if you shoot missiles and bullets and/or drop bombs--curb your enthusiasm with a little reason.

Re:Flight Sim Tech Here (1)

CRC'99 (96526) | about a year ago | (#42793577)

These sims are not, generally, capable of replicating either the variety of stressors that occur in actual training missions (not to mention combat), nor the physiological strains that actual flight places on the pilot.

I don't believe you need to be in combat, nor on any kind of military mission to have stress levels increase - sometimes to breaking point.

I've seen stories of relatively inexperienced first officers on 747s go crazy on an approach to an airport among thunderstorms and bad weather. My favourite one was an asian first officer who freaked out, started singing some song in korean and forced the captain to do the workload of two pilots to land. Most of the training leading up to this was in simulators.

I've seen stories of training captains throw real world scenarios to students learning to fly airliners that screw up, crash what should be a very easy recovery, go "oh well" and hit the reset button to the sim. They then continued to do other exercises while never really learning the lesson to the situation being simulated.

You can then add to the list of problems the reliance on computers in aircraft which if training is not up to scratch can really cause problems. The excellent presentation "Children of the Magenta [youtube.com]" highlights a lot of these - and while watching the video you might think that a lot of what the presenter points out is common sense - it is at odds with most training done in airlines these days.

The procedural training in a lot of airlines is (basically): Take off -> Climb to 500ft AGL -> confirm aircraft is in a stable climb -> Engage VNAV -> confirm no sudden unexpected movements -> Engage LNAV -> Monitor instrumentation until on final to land.

Its a matter of time until all these issues cascade into an unfortunate event. Its up to the pilot individually how they choose to avoid these events and how they keep their skills in tact to work effectively.

Re:Flight Sim Tech Here (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42793689)

One of the interesting things that I never thought about until I experienced it, is that because flight models are typically generated based on data from prototypes during late stage development, simulated aircraft generally fly like they just rolled out of the factory. The aircraft that most pilots fly are often closer to the end of their serviceable life than the beginning. (The oldest of the tails that I currently fly has exceeded its planned service life by a factor of 3) This does make a big difference. Engines are not quite as responsive. Controls don't feel quite the same, and electronics start to do unpredictable things.

In the end though, while interesting, this is not that big of a factor. The significant limitations to simulator training are more human.

In the sim, every time something fails, it looks the same as it did last time. In the sim you never loose your weather radar halfway through penetrating a line of embedded thunderstorms. In the sim, you are never scared, the comms are always crystal clear, ATC never spontaneously forgets how to speak english, the tanker never descends to the wrong altitude and civilian traffic never busts your airspace. Chinese fighters never disguise themselves as Singaporean airliners, and fishing boats never try to blind you with lasers.

Even if we were able to integrate each of those things into the curriculum, it would not make much difference. Different weird things happen to every pilot. Almost anyone can learn to fly a plane, but gracefully and safely dealing with stuff that no one could ever anticipate is what makes someone a pilot. Real life is always more strange than anything a curriculum development committee can ever come up with, and real-world flying is currently the only way to teach pilots how to think like pilots and not just technicians.

Re:Flight Sim Tech Here (3, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | about a year ago | (#42794685)

Given the number of hours things like the F22 have managed to stay airworthy I'd say simulators were the future, yes.

Why not? (4, Insightful)

pushing-robot (1037830) | about a year ago | (#42793151)

In a decade or two, most of them will be flying drones anyway.

Re:Why not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42793257)

Because UAVs are only wildly successful right now because they're up against opponents with no/little anti-air/jamming capacity. If either was fielded against UAVs, you'd hear reports of UAVs being shot down/crashing after running out of fuel regularly. Against a decent military (hypothetically) such as North Korea, Iran or Pakistan, UAVs would be nothing more than really difficult practice targets.

Re:Why not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42793407)

... Against a decent military (hypothetically) such as North Korea, Iran or Pakistan, UAVs would be nothing more than really difficult practice targets ...

That is a very strange list regarding "decent military" capability, in truth those sound like perfect candidates for UAVs.

More rational examples regarding "decent military" capability would be Russia and China.

In any case you argument is flawed. We are talking about drones a decade or two in the future. These will be more like today's manned fighters and not so much like the hastily designed/modded/fielded drones that have had various problems. Ie. they won't be lost due to jamming, dead reckoning and inertial navigation will get them back to friendly airspace, they won't get lost. If the inertial navigation is good enough they may still be able to perform their mission. Inertial to the approximate vicinity and then computer vision to recognize specific features to pinpoint a location, much like human pilots do.

Re:Why not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42794687)

That is a very strange list regarding "decent military" capability, in truth those sound like perfect candidates for UAVs.

More rational examples regarding "decent military" capability would be Russia and China.

Those would be examples of "highly capable military". North Korea, Iran, and Pakistan have some pretty decent militaries (often trained by China and Russia!). Iran has already taken down a couple of UAVs, at least one of them by jamming the control signal...

Re:Why not? (1)

MojoRilla (591502) | about a year ago | (#42796255)

UAVs have come a long way, and will certainly get better in the future. It is easy to see how much more capable you can create a plane that doesn't have a human pilot. UAVs don't need ejector seats, don't have to have life support equipment, don't have to worry about harming a pilot with Gforces, etc.

And, they are controlled remotely, which means that they can be jammed. However, the ability to jam communications also effects piloted aircraft. Looking into the future, it is clear that UAVs will continue to develop autonomous technology, so they can can take appropriate action when they loose communications with remote pilots.

Ultimately, a goal of the UAV program is autonomous vehicles, that have objectives specified by humans but carry out those objectives independently.

Re:Why not? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42794509)

Flying drones and launching air strikes on Americans, like Obama has already done against suspected "terrorists" and killed those Americans. Oh yeah, due process is thrown out the window, Obama is making sure the dictatorship is known to all Americans. You will be bombed if you're suspected to be an "associated force" of some other arbitrarily defined "terrorists".

Justice Department memo reveals legal case for drone strikes on Americans [nbcnews.com]

Judging by the popularity of games (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42794849)

Being paid to fly in a really fancy simulation game... Yes, they will find plenty of recruits. :-)

Re:Judging by the popularity of games (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year ago | (#42795077)

Being paid to fly in a really fancy simulation game... Yes, they will find plenty of recruits. :-)

Except that's not very interesting... it seems there's a lot of grinding. [slashdot.org]

Re:Why not? (2)

Hentes (2461350) | about a year ago | (#42795911)

Just because a drone is controlled remotely with an interface similar to a simulator doesn't mean it behaves like a simulated aircraft. It's still flying through real-life air.

We almost have self driving cars (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42793167)

Why not self flying aircraft? The human is the weakest link in the chain.

Re:We almost have self driving cars (2)

smash (1351) | about a year ago | (#42793449)

Already exist. ACLS carrier landings have been available for over a decade now I believe, and carrier landing is probably one of the trickier things.

Irony (0)

Gideon Fubar (833343) | about a year ago | (#42793171)

I vaguely know a guy who is a flight enthusiaist, but not an actual pilot... He's clocked thousands of hours in flight sims and sometimes does trial simulations of real passenger craft routes and the like.

I think he's crazy, but apparently actual pilots often call him for advice on landing at one specific airport in south east asia...

Re:Irony (1)

Phrogman (80473) | about a year ago | (#42794547)

There are Traffic Control enthusiasts out there too, whole log in solely to give directions to the Flight enthusiasts. Its a very strange hobby in my opinion but I can see how it might be fun :P

Re:Irony (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42794697)

Until they all go on virtual strike and a political enthusiast logs in as the President and fires them all.

Re:Irony (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42795075)

actual pilots often call him for advice on landing at one specific airport in south east asia

No, they don't.

Why not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42793173)

Many military aircraft are already pilotless or directed from the ground, and that trend will continue too. The "Top Gun" era is coming to a close.

Makes sense (1)

Oroka (1644579) | about a year ago | (#42793183)

the USAFs F-22 and upcoming F-35 both only come in single seat versions... there is no tutor flights, you go from sim to solo. If a sim can train a pilot who has never flown a F-22 or F-35 to fly one... why not keep pilots sharp for cheaper. I know the RCAF will let pilots take CF-18s 'home' (to an airport near their home), just to keep flight hours up. All the fuel, wear, and maintenance on the jet costs a lot, just for some stick time.

What a waste (1, Troll)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | about a year ago | (#42793193)

I live in Canada. The only people who are dangerous are the idiots south of the border. North? Polar bears. And they're drowning. East? Greenland. Yeah. I'm terrified of the Greenland invaders. West? More of the same idiots from south of the border. (Not everyone south of the border is an idiot. It just seems that way sometimes. Like electing George W Bush to anything beyond dog catcher.) So, really, the only real threat to Canada comes from the country that supplies our military gear. So, if we ever got into a war with them, I kind of doubt we'll be getting replacement parts any time soon. Canada has no business getting involved with the imperialist programme of the USA and its lapdog the UK. It's bad enough we're a colony to both of them...

Re:What a waste (1)

dryeo (100693) | about a year ago | (#42794421)

The Russians are building submarines and ice breakers as fast as they can and they're all being stationed in the northern sea. Of course we're pretty well as helpless against the Russians as the Americans. When you're outnumbered by at least 10 to 1 in both manpower and equipment...

Don't follow the Canadian example (0)

Sussurros (2457406) | about a year ago | (#42793231)

This is the Canadian armed forces who are so chronically underfunded and undersupported by their government that their submarines blow up on their remaidened voyage, that their special forces capture and torture to death children caught stealing from their base in Somalia.

I despise the US idea of shoot anything that moves but I'd much rather have that than an underprepared military with little support from the government whose dirty work they do.

At Kapyong in Korea the Canadians showed they the best soldiers in the world. Those days are long long gone.

Re:Don't follow the Canadian example (1)

jjohnson (62583) | about a year ago | (#42793285)

Wow... First time I've seen a callout to 2 PPCLI over Kapyong [wikipedia.org]. Definitely a high point in Canadian military history.

Re:Don't follow the Canadian example (1)

Sussurros (2457406) | about a year ago | (#42793565)

Well as I understand it Princess Pat's Regiment were of a similar standard to the average good Canadian infantryman at the time. They just happened to be in the right place at the right time and saved Seoul from falling to the Chinese and potentially stopped the UN from losing the Korean war. Not bad for a night's work.

Re:Don't follow the Canadian example (4, Insightful)

Dzimas (547818) | about a year ago | (#42793587)

Canada's military spending ranked 14th in the world in 2012. There are 180 nations in the world that spend less on their militaries - hardly chronically underfunded. Canadian soldiers are dedicated and extremely hard working; your attempt to slander the present day Canadian Forces because of an event that occurred 20 years ago is ridiculous. We are not proud that two Canadian soldiers beat a teenager to death in Somalia in 1993, but they don't represent the 115,000 active and reserve personnel in today's CF in any way, shape or form.

Re:Don't follow the Canadian example (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42793723)

There are 180 nations in the world that spend less on their militaries - hardly chronically underfunded.

Non sequitur.

Re:Don't follow the Canadian example (1)

mad flyer (589291) | about a year ago | (#42794297)

Not really... but if you think any latin word makes you look smart, go ahead...

Re:Don't follow the Canadian example (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year ago | (#42794839)

Some people think that if you don't outspend the rest of the world combined, that you are underfunded.

Re:Don't follow the Canadian example (1)

SplashMyBandit (1543257) | about a year ago | (#42794113)

What were the circumstances of the death? were they extensively provoked? soldiers don't usually just beat people to death for no reason - unless they are drunk. It would interesting to hear the facts of this case rather than possibly just slandering two soldiers without considering mitigating factors.

Re:Don't follow the Canadian example (1)

Sussurros (2457406) | about a year ago | (#42794201)

The Canadian soldiers were being stolen from every night, at first in an ad hoc way, then later on a systemic basis. These were reportedly the best soldiers in the Canadian army but they had been trained for war and not dealing with hordes of pilfering children. The soldiers got wound up so tight that they would catch kids and beat them. Later they started to torture them. Eventually one of the kids died. Somalia brought out the worst in a lot of the armies there and this behaviour was by no means restricted to the Canadian troops.

Re:Don't follow the Canadian example (1)

Phrogman (80473) | about a year ago | (#42794777)

They were members of the Canadian Airborne Regiment, and I think mostly because of this event, the CAB was disbanded thereafter.
I knew a fair number of guys in the Airborne and while they were admittedly gungho, they were only usually bad when in large groups. Individually they were nice guys for the most part. In groups their morale and intensity got them a little riled up shall we say.
There is no excuse for what happened in Somalia mind you. Every army and every unit has its bad eggs, and the Airborne attracted quite a few of them I suppose.
I suspect a lot of the best members of the Airborne - those who were not just returned to their units of origin - ended up in JTF2.

Re:Don't follow the Canadian example (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#42794961)

I knew a fair number of guys in the Airborne and while they were admittedly gungho, they were only usually bad when in large groups. Individually they were nice guys for the most part. In groups their morale and intensity got them a little riled up shall we say.

If they were bad in groups then they were bad individually, you just didn't notice.

Re:Don't follow the Canadian example (1)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about a year ago | (#42793821)

I would not bring up one unfortunate incident as a standard of Canadian conduct, especially in comparison to the US forces. We're only 'underfunded' and 'unsupported' in the viewpoint of a country that needs a huge army to bully every one with.

Re:Don't follow the Canadian example (1)

Sussurros (2457406) | about a year ago | (#42793987)

It was not one isolated incident. It was the final and most extreme of a long series of incidents. Your commandos were totally unprepared, had no training for that social/political environment and had insufficient support. It was, when seen in retrospect, almost inevitable.

After the parliamentary inquiry things did improve somewhat but to this day whenever I hear that my nation's forces have been deployed alongside Canadian forces I get an uneasy feeling that doesn't go away until the deployment is over.

I believe that the root cause of the problem is that Canada's defense is too important to the US for them to allow it to stay in Canadian hands.

Re:Don't follow the Canadian example (1)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#42794353)

I believe that the root cause of the problem is that Canada's defense is too important to the US for them to allow it to stay in Canadian hands.

Then you believe nonsense. Canada is a soverign nation that governs itself and runs its own military.

...whenever I hear that my nation's forces have been deployed alongside Canadian forces I get an uneasy feeling that doesn't go away until the deployment is over.

If that is true, then you may want to see a doctor or other mental health professional as you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder, or perhaps some other form of mental illness. Although your problem may not be curable, your symptoms may be treatable to allow you to go on with life in a world with Canadians (and the Canadian military) in it.

The tragedy of canuckophobia [wikipedia.org]

Re:Don't follow the Canadian example (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42795507)

You can't talk about this incident without mentioning the Canadian response:

We disbanded the regiment involved in disgrace.

The Somalia incident was unquestionably a low point in Canadian Army history, no doubt about it. And it revealed a systemic problem within that particular unit that, as you stated, had been around for a very long time. But our response was drastic - shut down the unit, imprison the worst offenders, fire a slew of them, and break up the ones worth saving into other units spread across the country. A very powerful message was sent to every single Canadian soldier and we all got it - there will be consequences for your actions bigger than just you.

I am ashamed of the actions of the Canadian Airborne Regiment in Somalia - but I am justifiably proud of my government's reaction to it. And not just me - our allies constantly tell us how impressed (Americans tend to say "shocked") they are about just how seriously we took that incident.

What nation are you from?

DG

Re:Don't follow the Canadian example (1)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#42794239)

We're only 'underfunded' and 'unsupported' in the viewpoint of a country that needs a huge army to bully every one with.

Don't worry, the Soviet Army is gone now. Thankfully NATO was able to outlast the whole rotten system of militant, milatarized, oppressive Soviet Communism.

And what a nasty giant they were back in the day too.

Soviet Military Doctrine [foreignaffairs.com]

Soviet ground forces are composed of more than two hundred divisions, all mechanized, and organized under army, front and high commands in at least five theaters of military operations. They possess more than 53,000 main battle tanks, 48,000 tubes of artillery, mortars and multiple-rocket launchers, 4,600 surface-to-air missiles and 4,500 helicopters.

The air forces include more than 4,900 tactical aircraft. Air defense forces have an additional 1,760 interceptor aircraft, 9,000 surface-to-air missile launchers, and 10,000 warning systems including satellites, radars and air surveillance systems. Under the terms of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, the worldâ(TM)s only ABM system has been deployed around Moscow.

The Soviet navy has 360 attack and cruise missile submarines, 274 principal surface combatants, and its own air arm of 390 bombers and 195 fighter aircraft.

After the Soviet Union fell, the US was able to cut its defense spending [heritage.org], which had been falling over time anyway. Even with the cuts, the US was subsidizing Western Europe's defense.

NATO BURDENSHARING AFTER ENLARGEMENT [cbo.gov]

Or were you thinking of someone else? If so, could you be more specific? It is a little hard to reconcile international relations with playground rhetoric. It is made even more difficult by the tendency of some people to forget who their friends are.

Re:Don't follow the Canadian example (1)

mirix (1649853) | about a year ago | (#42794749)

Oh boo hoo. The big bad communists made us spend all our money on weapons.

Then, after the boogeyman went away... the US still spends more money than anyone else, in fact an amount similar to everyone else combined.

Who will you blame for that?

Under the terms of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, the world's only ABM system has been deployed around Moscow.

Is that supposed to be a bad thing? The soviets pick their most populous city to defend - Meanwhile, the US picks a base in the middle of nowhere, North Dakota. Need I remind you who left the treaty, also.

Re:Don't follow the Canadian example (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year ago | (#42795107)

This is the Canadian armed forces who are so chronically underfunded and undersupported by their government that their submarines blow up on their remaidened voyage, that their special forces capture and torture to death children caught stealing from their base in Somalia.

Well, afterwards they can extend the experience to Mounties, I hear they ride some aircrafts [wikipedia.org] too.
And, you know? ... horses are pretty expensive too; maybe some sims would lower the pressure on the budget.

Video Games vs Drugs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42793305)

Canadians Armed Forces give their soldiers more training. American Armed Forces give their soldiers amphetamines. No. Really: "Dexedrine became the drug of choice for American bomber pilots, being used on a voluntary basis by roughly half of the U.S. Air Force pilots during the Persian Gulf War, a practice which came under some media scrutiny in 2003 after a mistaken attack killing Canadian troops." "'Go' pills for F-16 pilots get close look: Amphetamines prescribed in mission that killed Canadians". Los Angeles Times. http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Go-pills-for-F-16-pilots-get-close-look-2687644.php [sfgate.com]

Recruiting? Who wants to kill people legally! (1)

spasm (79260) | about a year ago | (#42793329)

"make recruiting pilots more difficult"?

So, [gender neutral diminutive term], do you want to kill people for a living? Do you not care if you can't tell the difference between when you're *really* killing people, or when you're just doing it in sim? Does the fact you'll sometimes really be killing people make up for only getting paid $25k? Boy, do we have the job for you!

Meanwhile, on the rare occasions Canadians (or whatever other country you're from) actually feel like their country/way of life/etc is under meaningful threat, they'll volunteer to do it. My grandfather and great grandfather did; I would if I felt there was a real need..

Fuck peacetime overspending on the military. The US now spends more on "defense" than the next 17 largest spenders put together (or spends more than every other country on earth put together, depending on how you calculate it). I really don't give a shit if imperial expansion sucks so badly that we can't even get poor people to sign up any more.

It depends ... (2)

perpenso (1613749) | about a year ago | (#42793339)

Simulators can be very useful for pilot training. However their training value varies greatly depending on the task to be performed. Things relating to standard procedures and corrective actions for unforeseen events may be more useful, things related to air combat maneuvering (ACM) less so. Certainly ACM can be taught at an academic level in a simulator, learning the mechanics of a particular maneuver, being able to replay things from different vantage points, including your opponents. However the experience of actually feeling the g-forces during ACM is very important. Learning/practicing proper technique for maintaining consciousness, learning your personal limits, etc need actual flight time and the skills developed during this flight time are perishable. G-forces are also another input your brain learns to use. With experience a pilot can estimate how many degrees they have turned based on g-force and time, "that feels like 90 degrees", its just another thing that contributes to situational awareness and may negate the need to check a compass or external reference point. Handy if you have a more pressing thing to do.

More, or less? (1)

bidule (173941) | about a year ago | (#42793369)

Do they mean a 5x increase of time spent in simulators, with the same "real" flight time as now?
At the other end, do they mean a 5-fold decrease in "real" flight time?

Because it could mean anything in between...

It's a no brainer (1)

smash (1351) | about a year ago | (#42793429)

I suspect it will mean more time in a sim yes, but largely due to the increased flight time.

I.e., i don't see them cutting down on real fly time a huge amount, but the improved sim fidelity will enable more training on tactics, we with the same budget.

For a combat pilot, combat tactics and avionics training are just as important as actual aircraft handling, and those things can be taught in the simulator pretty well.

Re:It's a no brainer (1)

catchblue22 (1004569) | about a year ago | (#42793459)

For a combat pilot, combat tactics and avionics training are just as important as actual aircraft handling, and those things can be taught in the simulator pretty well.

Yeah, but you can't simulate a 6 g turn, nor can you simulate a pilot coming "out of the sun".

Re:It's a no brainer (1)

smash (1351) | about a year ago | (#42794475)

You can somewhat simulate coming out of the sun - even some home sims like Falcon BMS do it. And yes, there is no simulation for G of course (I've been up in an old WW2 era fighter and even 4-5 G was like ... whoah... props to the guys in jets!) - which is why cockpit time will still be necessary.

But things like radar management, weapons deployment, formation flight, emergency procedures, etc. can all be performed in the sim. There's a hell of a lot more to a modern fighter aircraft than point and shoot with guns :)

Sims Are Good...But NOT for learning how to fight (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42793447)

A lot of sim time may not make it difficult to recruit pilots....it WILL make it difficult to keep them alive and able to win in both training and combat missions.

I have over 1,200 hrs in the F-4 Phantom and probably 500+ hours in simulators.

Even if a sim has a 100% accurate visual environment and simulates the aircraft systems perfectly, it can not simulate the physical environment (mostly the G's) of flying a training or combat mission. A real two hour mission in a fighter is roughly equivalent to lifting head, hand and foot weights in a phone booth on a hot, sunny day while doing a life-or-death crossword puzzle (one mistake and someone, probably you, dies) and the phone booth is juggled by a demented fork lift operator.

Think of this...at 6Gs (a normal hard turn...a really hard turn, like you mean it, is more like 7 - 9 Gs) your head + helmet weighs between 50 and 60 pounds. So climb into a small car on a hot day with 4 bowling balls (or that much weight) strapped to your head. Then drive along at 200 MPH down an empty Interstate and, while driving, turn and watch carefully some idiot with a large gun that is chasing you (also presumably in a car doing 200 MPH). An old saying in the fighter business is "lose sight...lose fight". So you MUST keep that idiot in sight while dealing with your 50 + pound head AND driving down the road dodging the idiot AND oh yes, get someone on a cell phone to talk to. Make sure you talk "hands free" of course. ;-)

Sims are GREAT for teaching aircraft systems, procedures and how to deal with emergencies. However, the harsh physical environment of flying a fighter mission is something that is not going to be simulated any time soon and you have to experience it, and often, in order to teach and remind your body and mind how to cope with it.

Sounds like someone who knows. I can only imagine (1)

raymorris (2726007) | about a year ago | (#42793799)

Sounds like you know WTF you're talking about. Those of us with zero combat hours ought to listen to you.
I've only flown at 60 knots, 1/10th the speed of a combat aircraft, and noone was shooting at me. A sim couldn't prepare me for that, an ultralight. Flying almost straight down at the ground (it seems) from 2000 feet up and keeping your noise pointed at the ground until a few seconds before you hit, without freaking out requires more than pretending on a computer screen. That's in a $2,500 plane that goes 65 mph and the sim can't replicate it. I can't imagine what it's like to be a combat aviator, but I'm pretty damn sure playing an expensive video game isn't proper preparation!

Re:Sims Are Good...But NOT for learning how to fig (1)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about a year ago | (#42793841)

So what you're saying is flying jets is awesome, right?

Re:Sims Are Good...But NOT for learning how to fig (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#42795413)

so... you fly for Iranians?

simulator time is still better than nothing, even with shitty simulator(ask russians).

Just facing the future (1)

hyades1 (1149581) | about a year ago | (#42793525)

Considering the next generation of high-performance aircraft will quite possibly be unmanned, this might not be such a bad idea.

Just as Ender... (1)

RiddleyWalker (734992) | about a year ago | (#42793527)

...or Ripley: Ripley: How many drops is this for you, Lieutenant? Gorman: Thirty eight... simulated. Vasquez: How many *combat* drops? Gorman: Uh, two. Including this one. Drake: Shit. Hudson: Oh, man...

Cost is another big reason (1)

LeperPuppet (1591409) | about a year ago | (#42793591)

From what I've read elsewhere, Canada's current Hornets cost approximately $10K per hour to operate, while their replacement, the F-35, has been estimated to cost over $30K per hour. With the F-35 costing so much more to operate, increased simulator hours for training become the obvious move. The alternative is under trained or unqualified pilots at the controls of $100m+ aircraft.

Rotate often (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about a year ago | (#42793599)

Most pilots want to be up in the actual sky, not in a simulation. Thus, if simulators are used more, at least rotate often between ground and sky so that the pilot gets the real deal often enough to keep their interest. Don't go for months of training with only simulations.

Royal Canadian Kilted Yaksman Here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42793687)

We need simulators because: Our yaks are really large

For the record -- why do we still need pilots? (3, Insightful)

rocket rancher (447670) | about a year ago | (#42793941)

I'm a private pilot with a multi-engine rating. Simulators seem to be a good way to rehearse cockpit procedures, but unless they figure out a way to simulate g-forces, that's about the limit of their usefulness. Simulating a spin recovery procedure is one thing, doing it for real with a two- or three-g load from the spin is another. With that said, I don't think commercial and military pilots are going to have a viable career field for much longer. Military pilots are already being replaced by drone operators, and I think the rate of replacement is going to accelerate if the drone program keeps posting the kind of successes it has enjoyed so far. Unmanned vehicles seem to be the future of military aviation. Commercial pilots will probably last longer, because commercial airlines have to convince a skeptical public that airliners are going to be as safe with a computer at the stick as they are right now with a human. Realistically, commercial pilots have a hand on the stick only during takeoffs and landings, but all modern heavies can land and take off under autopilot, and have been able to for about thirty years. IIRC, a Douglas Skymaster made a transatlantic flight completely on autopilot, including the take-off and landing, even farther back than that (late 1940s? have to google that) so the technology is definitely out there. IMHO, pilots are still in commercial cockpits (and will be there for a while) because the paying public wants them there, not because they need to be there.

Re:For the record -- why do we still need pilots? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42794159)

Why do we need pilots? The flight deck ain't gonna rape itself now is it?

http://travel.msn.co.nz/travelnews/8604280/female-passenger-groped-by-drunk-ba-captain

Re:For the record -- why do we still need pilots? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#42794955)

We will still need pilots as long as it is possible to jam communications.

With that said, the number of pilots we need has already decreased, and it will decrease further.

Re:For the record -- why do we still need pilots? (1)

Milharis (2523940) | about a year ago | (#42795331)

I doubt commercial pilots are going to disappear anytime soon, though their number will decrease, and their role might change.
Autopilot might be able to perform as well as real pilots (or even better) for normal flight, and during some emergencies, but there's still the problem of catastrophic failures.
If the whole system shut down (or has to be shut down) on an automatic train or car, you can just stop the vehicle. Obviously, that's not possible with a plane, you need a real person there to handle the situation.

For the record, you're right about the Skymaster, it was in 1947.

Re:For the record -- why do we still need pilots? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42795391)

Of course there are already catastrophic failures in which the human flight crew can do nothing. The black box recordings for _those_ flights tend to go suddenly from idle chit-chat to concern, to blasphemy or other swearing. e.g.

"I don't know what's wrong with my kids"
"I feel you, hey, shouldn't we see their lights by now?"
"Fuck, trees!"
"Oh god"
(ends)

Are Pilots necessary? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42794007)

Are pilots really necessary anymore in Military aircraft? They must be considered a dying breed, UAVs and UCVs with increasingly autonomous intelligence, swarm behavior etc seem to be a better option. Able to withstand greater G loadings, smaller but with similar payloads. The future is more likely to be large bomber type aircraft carrying swarms of UCVs to the theatre for deployment.

Why you need a piot to fly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42794589)

... when you have drones?

Saves time (1)

jfdavis668 (1414919) | about a year ago | (#42795973)

You would not believe how much time is wasted flying around waiting to train. Your training area is rarely near your airfield. You fly a few hours, then wait until other planes take turns doing the mission. You then roll in and perform the training mission, then quickly exit so someone else can. Now, you do need to learn to take off, fly long distances and land, but it is not useful training when you are focused on another mission. With the simulator, you can start in mid air and begin the mission right away. It is not a replacement for actual flying, but you can get up to speed in the simulator prior to flying the mission, and keep sharp when flying isn't practicle.
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