Framework for Airspace Situation-awareness Training (FAST™)

The FAST™ technology is a simulation-based training system that allows users to create scenario-based training content for better managing airspace and de-confliction in manned and RPA systems. The scenarios are stored in a FAST™ scenario library for reuse or can be stored as templates for adapting and evolving scenarios to meet specific training needs.

The increasing use of Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) systems is complicating airspace management; in addition, these small, stealthy, and highly maneuverable RPA systems are difficult for conventional airspace-management technology to effectively manage. Training for RPA operators has also failed to match the pace of RPA development and generally fails to address methods and techniques for managing airspace in the presence of RPA, further raising safety risks. Improved training for RPA operators, the ability of develop an operating picture in common, and effective de-confliction methods and techniques will be significant steps in making mixed-use airspace effective and safe.

KBSI is designing an innovative simulation-based training system that will improve RPA-operator airspace situation awareness. The Framework for Airspace Situation-awareness Training (FAST™) technology will allow users to build scenario-based training content for airspace management and de-confliction in manned and RPA systems. The FAST scenarios can be stored in a scenario library for reuse in developing new simulation-based training exercises or as templates for adapting and evolving existing training scenarios to meet particular mission or training needs. The FAST technology will also allow users to design airspace management and de-confliction performance measures and high fidelity immersive training mechanisms for manned and RPA systems.

Phase II Development

In Phase II of the FAST initiative, the training needs of the Mission Intelligence Coordinator (MIC) warfighter became the primary focus (rather than training for RPA and sensor operators). Training development will focus on scenarios to enhance situation awareness (SA) for the Mission Intelligence Coordinator (MIC). The MIC is a member of the three-person RPA crew. The basic responsibilities for the MIC include maintaining situational awareness using specific communication assets: intercom, mIRC (military Internet Relay Chat), and radio. The MIC wears a headset that also allows two-way communication across an intercom.

The primary software used for SA in the MQ-1 community is Zeus and Google® Earth. Phase II of the initiative will use Google® Earth and focus on utilizing e-mail, mIRC, and intercom communication. These assets will be integrated into a single software kit and be tied directly to training scenarios that incorporate pilot and sensor operator positions. The purpose will be to emulate a MIC workstation that allows communication injections to the RPA crew.

KBSI is currently working with the project team (which includes RCG and Lumir) to identify focused FAST™ technology application and training performance measurement requirements, and to examine approaches for integrating component FAST™ tool modules within the AFRL ICOTT and the AFRL Learning Management System (LMS). The answers to these questions will help KBSI determine a strategy to ‘plug-in’ FAST™ technology components with AFRL ICOTT and with the AFRL LMS.

We refined our mapping of MECs to example RPA training scenarios and drills in order to incorporate MIC-focused training scenarios and drills. The MIC is similar to an executive assistant/librarian who has access to all the data relative to the mission and provides requested information to pilots and sensor operators in a timely manner. The MIC is also plugged into the intelligence community and can quickly gather information from a host of intelligence sources.

The MIC collects as much information as possible concerning the operational mission, beginning with a mission package compiled by the supported unit (e.g., the Army personnel on the ground who will be conducting the raid). The mission package identifies the objective(s) of the mission, the players, roles and responsibilities, the rules of engagement, limitations, communication, etc. The MIC is responsible for filtering the information so that pilots and sensor operators are presented with/have access to only the information they need. For example, the pilot may wish to see an overview of the target area during the course of the mission – the pilot makes a request to the MIC who then provides the relevant overview. If the pilot wants to speak with the ground commander he may ask the MIC for the correct frequency. If the mission is re-routed to new airspace, the pilot may ask the MIC to update the airspace file to ensure no air space violations on the route. The MIC can also provide requested information to sensor operators who are focused on gathering sensor data. If there are pilot questions regarding a sensor display or reading, the MIC and the trained analysts in the Distributed Common Ground Station (DCGS) can be consulted and the decision relayed back to the pilot.

The results of the FAST™ initiative will significantly improve the quality of training for MIC warfighters and enhance the responsiveness and effectiveness of mission coordination in the field.

Related Research