Posted by John McHale .
We've all read the stories or seen the newscasts about how dangerous convoys are in Iraq and Afghanistan -- facing hidden improvised explosive devices (IEDs), snipers, and shelling. It would seem an impossible scenario to train for, but engineers at Lockheed Martin Global Training and Logistics in Orlando, Fla., have developed a training system that does just that with actual convoy trucks driving through a synthetic environment with un-tethered training weapons.
This week I got the opportunity to try out the company's Combat Convoy Simulator (CCS), which provides an immersive training environment for a variety of military vehicles , including the High-Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) and the Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement (MTVR) for the U.S. Marine Corps. According to the system data sheet during each training mission, the vehicle commander and a crew of up to four students are presented with realistic terrain, weather, and threat environments focused on warfare scenarios such as re-supply, patrol, logistics support, high-value target extraction, medical evacuation and calls for close air support/calls for fire. After the mission planning is complete, each training mission focuses on defending against current and evolving threats.
I chose the gunner role, having to fire the heavy gun turret on top of the vehicle while it was "moving" through a synthetic Afghanistan town and being shelled. I'm just a journalist in a suit, in a simulation, and could barely control that thing. The thought of actually driving through a hot zone in Iraq at night is scary as hell.
The weapons had a bit of recoil, which I was told is similar to what live weapons feel like.
Lockheed Martin has facilities where they group together about six different simulators create a virtual convoy to help warfighters learn how to communicate when the world around them is literally exploding.
Thanks to Heather Kelly, Lockheed Martin Communications, and the technicians and engineers at Lockheed Martin Global Training and Logistics for the experience.