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According to a CAE statement on 5 February, the Italian Ministry of Defence (MoD) and Italian Air Force (ItAF) have formally qualified the CAE-built PREDATOR Mission Trainer for zero flight time training on the PREDATOR B/MQ-9 variant and the simulator has been accepted as ready-for-training at Amendola Air Base. The PMT is the highest-fidelity simulator ever developed and fielded for the PREDATOR family of remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) systems, developed by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc (GA-ASI).

"The incredible realism of the PREDATOR Mission Trainer gives us a critical training capability to efficiently produce the highly skilled PREDATOR crews we need to conduct a range of operational missions," commented a representative of the Italian Air Staff. "Having the world's highest fidelity PREDATOR Mission Trainer as part of our unmanned systems centre of excellence in Italy gives us unmatched training flexibility and the ability to leverage simulation-based virtual training throughout our curriculum."

The PMT was jointly developed by CAE and GA-ASI. Earlier in 2018, the ItAF began training on the PREADTOR A variant of the PMT. The device was formally qualified by the MoD Directorate of Air Armaments and Airworthiness (DAAA).

As prime contractor on the programme, CAE collaborated with GA-ASI and the ItAF to conduct flight testing on an actual ItAF PREDATOR, to gather the required flight data used in development of the PMT. The use of actual flight data specific to an individual aircraft, which is required when developing Level D simulators - the highest qualification for flight simulators - is a first for the PREDATOR family of RPAs. For the physical hardware, CAE used an actual Block 15 Mobile Ground Control Station (MGCS) provided by the ItAF, to ensure the highest level of fidelity and realism. The PMT also features CAE's high-fidelity sensor simulation, fully interactive synthetic and tactical environment for enhanced mission training, and use of the Open Geospatial Consortium Common Database (OGC CDB) architecture for interoperable and networked training capabilities.

"The development of the PREDATOR Mission Trainer for the Italian Air Force represents a new level of fidelity and capability in the use of simulation-based training for remotely piloted aircraft pilots and sensor operators," commented CAE Group President, Defence & Security, Gene Colabatistto. "We have leveraged our decades of experience developing the highest fidelity flight simulators for commercial and military aircraft, and applied the same discipline to this 'zero flight time' PREDATOR Mission Trainer so that aircrews could potentially conduct all training in the simulator without necessarily requiring further training on the actual aircraft. We believe this PREDATOR Mission Trainer is the first Level D equivalent simulator for an unmanned aircraft."

"GA-ASI was pleased to collaborate with CAE to develop this advanced simulator for the PREDATOR, and we expect this training capability will be highly desired by militaries acquiring our family of remotely piloted aircraft systems," added GA-ASI President, David R Alexander. "The PREDATOR Mission Trainer will play a key role helping the Italian Air Force develop highly skilled and well-trained aircrews who are prepared and ready to operate the proven PREDATOR RPA systems."

CAE's PMT, developed in collaboration with GA-ASI, is now ready for training at Amendola Air Base, Italy. (Photo: CAE)

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