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The US Navy’s (USN) Center for Surface Combat Systems (CSCS) at Norfolk, VA, opened its new Combined Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) and Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Trainer – known as CIAT – on 12 July.

CIAT features a technical approach that originated during the early stages of combat system virtualisation and technology exploration by Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) divisions in Dahlgren, VA and Carderock, MD. “This virtualization effort offered flexibility along with maximum capability by deploying multiple weapons system baselines in a single commercial off-the-shelf equipment configuration,” explained CIAT Senior Systems Engineer at NSWC Dahlgren, Jonathan Higgins. “The CIAT engineering teams of NSWC Dahlgren and NSWC Carderock leveraged and enhanced prior Navy simulation and visualization investments to provide full-scale combat systems operations with significantly improved fidelity to immerse watch standers into a realistic training environment.”

NSWC Dahlgren Division is the lead integrator and the IAMD developer for CIAT. NSWC Carderock Division is the ASW developer and Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Newport Division is the ASW components developer. The three divisions delivered CIAT to the fleet shore-based facilities in 2018 as the most capable combat systems trainer ever developed for Navy surface forces.

What makes CIAT revolutionary compared to other shipboard training is its ability to replay decisions made during a scenario in a full screen debrief. Current shipboard training evaluations can feel subjective in nature – sometimes sailors are left wondering what actually happened or what went wrong.

The Navy as a whole has benefited from the engineering efforts and advancements, as other programs are now able to leverage and extend the virtualization and simulation improvements pioneered through CIAT,” explained Higgins.

The Navy’s acquisition program offices and warfare centers are developing and delivering phenomenal capabilities to our warships,” added CSCS Commanding Officer, Capt Dave Stoner. “This trainer represents the best multi-warfare training anywhere. It is better than the systems we have on the ship. I wish I had this capability while I was in command of a warship.”

CIAT allows training for operators of the AEGIS Combat System, including the AN/SQQ-89A(V)15 ASW system, using combinations of virtualised tactical code, emulations and high fidelity simulations to create realistic ship-like conditions at Naval bases from San Diego, VA, to Norfolk and Dahlgren in Virginia. CIAT includes an in-depth integrated debrief capability for individual and team analysis by recording simulation of scenario ground truth, instructor and watch stander console displays and audio for after-action reporting in support of student and instructor analysis. CSCS officially brought the west coast CIAT facility online at CSCS Detachment San Diego in December 2018. Since then, CSCS trained crewmembers aboard ships, including the USS RAFAEL PERALTA (DDG 115), USS PINCKNEY (DDG 91), USS BUNKER HILL (CG 52), USS JOHN FINN (DDG 113), USS PRINCETON (CG 59) and USS SHOUP (DDG 86).

Opening a new CIAT facility in Norfolk expands the Navy’s ability to train the surface fleet on complex air, surface, undersea and ballistic missile threats we could face anywhere in the world today,” commented PMS 339 Program Manager, Capt Sam Pennington. “This state-of-the-art, high fidelity trainer provides the ability for combat systems watch teams to build proficiency and validate combat effectiveness. CIAT provides an immersive experience that provides each watch team the same visual and audio indications they would expect to experience if operating their own systems aboard their ship in a deployed environment.”

Moreover, Warfare Tactics Instructors from the Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center have been using the facility to test and refine new tactics.

In the CIAT, we can tie together all console and headset communications against the scenario ground truth to show each team the cause and effect of every decision,” explained CSCS Technical Support Deputy, Mike Kroner. “It is unlike anything we have seen in surface navy training.”

Currently, sailors from PCU DELBERT BLACK (DDG 119) are in training as the first ship and crew to train at the new CIAT.

The CIAT will revolutionize how we train our ships and sailors,” observed the officer in charge of CSCS Detachment Norfolk, Lt-Cdr Brian Blankenship. “With its combined set of high-fidelity simulation tools, integrated debrief capability and realistic training environment, this trainer will have a profound effect on combat readiness by providing better trained, better qualified sailors to the fight against the evolving threats.”

Virtualisation and simulation capabilities pioneered in CIAT will have a profound effect on training USN sailors. (Photo: USN)

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