Navy Training Merges Virtual and Real Worlds

By Glenn White
Office of Naval Research FIST2FAC Integration and Transition Manager

Swarming attack boats is one of several tactics Navy leaders hope to overcome through an anti-access/area denial strategy to counter threats from adversaries trying to restrict the access and movement of U.S. forces.

Lt. j.g. Bret Andrews, assigned to the guided-missile destroyer USS Paul Hamilton (DDG 60), stands officer of the deck watch in the Office of Naval Research (ONR) Fleet Integrated Synthetic Training and Testing Facility (FIST2FAC) operated by the Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Keyport, located on Ford Island, Hawaii. FIST2FAC allows Sailors to interact with artificially intelligent synthetic forces in various settings. (U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams/Released)

Lt. j.g. Bret Andrews, assigned to the guided-missile destroyer USS Paul Hamilton (DDG 60), stands officer of the deck watch in the Office of Naval Research (ONR) Fleet Integrated Synthetic Training and Testing Facility (FIST2FAC) operated by the Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Keyport, located on Ford Island, Hawaii. FIST2FAC allows Sailors to interact with artificially intelligent synthetic forces in various settings. (U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams/Released)

The Fleet Integrated Synthetic Training/Testing Facility was developed in response to a U.S. Fifth Fleet urgent operational need request for a more portable way to train so that they could give the capability to any ship in a given warfare area or operating area.

The training and testing facility provides the warfighter with the ability to face realistic in-area adversaries and develop strategies for a variety of missions and operations. The system can replicate simple and complex situations involving aircraft carriers, helicopters, lethal and nonlethal weapons, and more.

A Sailor assigned to the guided-missile destroyer USS Paul Hamilton (DDG 60) engages small attack craft during training held in the Office of Naval Research (ONR) Fleet Integrated Synthetic Training/Testing Facility (FIST2FAC) operated by the Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Keyport, located on Ford Island, Hawaii, Aug. 28. (U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams/Released)

A Sailor assigned to the guided-missile destroyer USS Paul Hamilton (DDG 60) engages small attack craft during training held in the Office of Naval Research (ONR) Fleet Integrated Synthetic Training/Testing Facility (FIST2FAC) operated by the Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Keyport, located on Ford Island, Hawaii, Aug. 28. (U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams/Released)

In addition to the fast-attack craft threat, the training and testing facility has been used to simulate anti-submarine warfare and strike group operations with aircraft carriers, destroyers and helicopters. Soon, the system will address electronic, mine and anti-air warfare scenarios.

With the Fleet Integrated Synthetic Training/Testing Facility, once you build the simulation, you can reuse it and train multiple warfare areas across multiple platforms. For example, during an event in August at Ford Island, Hawaii, we used it to train tactical action officers, anti-submarine warfare surface personnel, aircraft controllers and a helicopter crew – simultaneously.

An important feature is its cost savings. The cost to develop its infrastructure was $4 million, but the technology is reusable and can easily be modified to address a number of complex environments. By comparison, it costs about $250,000 just to get an aircraft carrier out for live training for an event such as the mandatory pre-deployment composite training unit exercise, and approximately $6 million to fuel a strike group for a week. When the cost of fuel is considered, a live event lasting just 6 to 10 hours may cost a million dollars.

Currently, all of this is shore-based, but the goal is to make this capability available on ships at sea.

The Fleet Integrated Synthetic Training/Testing Facility was developed with support from U.S. Pacific Fleet, Naval Undersea Warfare Center Keyport Division Naval Warfare Development Command, and Office of Naval Research Global.

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Navy Training Merges Virtual and Real Worlds