Ministry of Defence awards £33 million simulation contract

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has awarded QinetiQ a five-year, £33 million contract to provide simulation training to the UK military.

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The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has awarded QinetiQ a five-year, £33 million contract to provide simulation training to the UK military.

QinetiQ has been providing air and land mission training for the last five years at Air Battlespace Training Centre at RAF Waddington in Lincoln, supported by sub-contractors such as Boeing and Plexsys.

This new contract will see the company continue to provide the training programme, formally known as ‘Distributed Synthetic Air Land Training 2’ (DSALT2). Front-line personnel receive the training before they are deployed on operations.

The programme will be adapted over the lifetime of the contract ‘to meet the future operational needs of the military’, according to QinetiQ.

Russ Cole, who leads the flight simulation and synthetic training team, said: "Simulation and synthetic training is an extremely important part of training our modern Armed Forces and, although it will never fully replace live training, the ability to practice and train in highly realistic but safe environments is a vital, life-saving capability essential to effective mission preparation."

The training includes exercises such as ‘Steel Dragon’ which mimics a realistic high-threat environment, to which trainees must respond with appropriate tactics, techniques and procedures.

Military personnel are able to train with pilots and commanders thousands of miles away thanks to the technology provided by QinetiQ. The DSALT2 programme also includes an immediate post-training review which displays the battle space in 2D and 3D and ensures key mission and training objectives and any lessons learned are seen by trainees.

Miles Adcock, MD for QinetiQ Training, said: “Our training provides the RAF and Army with a realistic representation of the operating environment they will face, which is critical to achieving mission success. It allows trainees across the UK to train together in the same mission, in real time, with our coalition partners across the globe.

“We train the UK Armed Forces in the safe and effective employment of weapons systems available in an Air-Land battle, including artillery, mortars, attack helicopters, fixed wing and unmanned aircraft. Such realistic conditions are not usually available outside actual operations and our training provides vital preparation ahead of missions.”

MoD’s core IT system needs ‘dramatic’ improvement

Last week the MoD’s chief information officer (CIO) Mike Stone admitted that the department’s core IT system, the Defence Information Infrastructure (DII), needs to be ‘dramatically’ improved.

The DII provides a secure military platform to 300,000 users, covering all branches of the armed forces as well as MoD civil servants over 2,000 sites.

However in a strategy document last year the department itself admitted that the DII has been slow to deliver and is becoming rapidly out-of-date. 

Since becoming CIO in May, Stone has developed a two-year programme to improve the DII, he said in a blog post on the GOV.UK website.

The plan, which will start to be implemented next month, will see the MoD move to more “modern, open and flexible” IT, according to Stone.

The changes will allow MoD employees to access technology tailored to their role, mission and location at any time through a range of devices, over “a cost effective, modern and adaptable infrastructure”, he said.

The MoD is also planning to adopt commercial standards and security arrangements for non-sensitive daily work.

As part of the plan Stone announced 30 specific improvements that he plans to deliver between now and March 2015, including better internet access, quicker logon and logoff times and more flexible mobility solutions using wifi. Restrictions on social media will also be relaxed at the department.

He added: “There’s a lot to do, and this is not an overnight fix, but we are on the right path. The announcement last week was endorsed and counter-signed by our major partners – HP, Fujitsu and BT – as clear evidence of their commitment to ensure we deliver a modern, user-focused IT experience.  

“I will be reporting regularly on progress, and there will be a further announcement at the end of October setting out the path towards the 2016 end state.”

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