Sunday, August 9, 2020

U.S. Marines conduct virtual training for close air support combat missions

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Northrop Grumman has announced on 12 March that for the first time ever, members of the U.S. Marine Corps used Northrop Grumman’s Distributed Training Center (DTC) located at Joint Base Langley-Eustis to train for close air support combat missions.

The aerospace giant reported during two training events, eight F-15E aircrews based at Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho trained with four Marines from Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state via the DTC. The Marines, trained as Joint Tactical Air Controller/Joint Forward Observers (JTAC/JFO), are part of the 6th Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company (ANGLICO) tasked with calling-in air strikes and artillery fire in support of their attached formation. ANGLICO JTACs support Special Operations Forces and typically deploy to the battlefield in small teams.

Each mission scenario was designed, created and supported by Northrop Grumman DTC engineers based on mission demands. The multi-service close air support (CAS) training closely replicated scenarios in current battle zones where warfighters are deployed, while at the same time providing virtual and constructive training at a fraction of the cost of live training.


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“The Marines were impressed with the high fidelity training and said the customized scenarios felt like real life,” said Martin Amen, director, secure network operations, Northrop Grumman.

The simulation training event met the following desired learning objectives provided by the participants:

  • (JTAC) Joint CAS environment – more than one service involved
  • (JTAC) Integrated air and surface fires
  • (JTAC) Deconflict multiple air assets – training included four virtual F-15Es and one constructive MQ-9 Reaper
  • (F-15E) 25 mph+ moving target – fighter tracks and engages a target going more than 25 mph
  • (F-15E) Hot gun to target artillery deconfliction – ensuring aircraft flight paths are not in conflict with the flight path of artillery rounds being fired at targets in the same vicinity
  • (F15E) Squirters from a strike – track and target enemy fighters who survive the initial strike
  • (F-15E) Bomb-on-coordinate targets utilizing different weapons – using varying classes of GPS-aided bombs to hit the right targets
  • (F15E) CAS stack deconfliction – airspace management with the added value of matching aircraft to targets

The DTC has provided live, virtual and constructive training for the U.S. Air Force for nine years, but this was the first time Marines used the DTC to train for their missions. Last year, the Army Rangers utilized the DTC for the first time to train for deployment.

Developed for Air Force simulation training in 1999, Northrop Grumman’s Distributed Mission Operations Network (DMON) provides the connectivity and network interoperability for the DTC, which became operational in 2010 to meet the need for real-world scenario development and advanced warfighter readiness training. Northrop Grumman wants to expand the use of the DMON and DTC beyond the Air Force to additional services such as the Marine Corps, the U.S. Army and international forces.

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Executive Editor

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