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Given current concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic, the Defence Simulation, Education and Training (DSET) conference and exhibition in Bristol 10-11 March was well attended: over 30 exhibitors had the opportunity to engage with a predominantly military audience.

Now in its fifth year, DSET was largely focused on UK programmes, but speakers from Germany, the Netherlands and the USA gave the event an international flavour. Firsts for this year included Seb Loze from EPIC Games joining video link from Canada and the announcement by DSET’s organisers, Ruddy Nice Ltd, of an internship programme designed to bring younger people into the S&T industry.

Conference speakers addressed a number of key UK programmes, including the Army’s Collective Training Transformation Programme (CTTP), the Royal Navy’s Project Selbourne and the Royal Air Force’s Defence Operational Training Capability (Air) Core Systems & Services (DCS&S) initiative. An update on the UK’s Defence College of Technical Training (DCCT) was provided in the keynote address by Air Cdre Adam Sansom, DCCT Commandant, who described DCCT’s LEARN Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), which will be installed in the last of four schools at HMS SULTAN later this year as part of a £6 million (€6.7 million) programme.

Other news centred on Project Selbourne and the Royal Navy’s wish to amalgamate the current 28 outsourced training programmes under one consortium. Babcock International, Raytheon and Lockheed Martin are all chasing down this £2 billion programme, contract award for which is slated for this May.

CTTP is at a much earlier stage and according to Col James York, the British Army “is in the third round of discussions with industry,” focused on potential commercial delivery models. Training Transformation was one of the many buzz phrases that echoed around the conference room; all three services have training transformation projects underway, including the RAF’s SOCRATES initiative.

Despite calls for ‘optimisation of training pipelines’; ‘holistic and coherent training approaches’; ‘agile learning’; and ‘evidenced-based learning strategies’, the military finds it difficult to implement its training concepts – for many reasons, including slow and laborious procurement processes, the turnover of staff officers within project teams and the impact of changing military strategies, including strategic political decisions.

In terms of news at the show, BISim launched v.20.1 update for VBS3; while VT MAK highlighted its new Integrated Product Baseline for VR Forces and VR Engage, selected by Boeing UK for the RAF’s DCS&S programme. Calytrix announced it has opened a UK office and a new mortar simulator from D3A Defence, featuring MetaVR’s VRSG, was shown for the first time.

Announced a week before the show, many attendees were talking about the Ravenswood-led team, including RUAG, QinetiQ and Agility, replacing Saab as the incumbent TESIK training provider in Kenya. Saab has provided this tactical engagement training for a decade and were thought to be well established in the role.

Edward Soden in Bristol for MON

Headline picture shows (from left) Maj Sander Cruiming, Royal Netherlands Army; Wg Comd Ruari Henderson Begg RAF, SO1 Synthetic Training; and Wim Huiskamp, TNO Netherlands. (Photo via author). Photo in article shows VT MAK’s VR Vantage image generator displaying current versions of VR Forces and VR Engage. (Photo: VT MAK)

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