“Experience gained in earlier exercises has shown that the pilot’s role lacks realism so I have been tasked by the Swedish Armed Forces’ Director of Development to improve the aircraft dimension in the exercise,” says Ulf Jinnestrand, who is the Armed Forces’ head of modelling and simulation.
What happens in VIKING is that a player in the Response cell for the aircraft decides to shoot down a hostile aircraft. Instead of just doing this through an ‘enter click’ on the computer, the inject is fed into the experiment. Nine different systems are linked together in a ‘federation’ so that they are able to communicate with one another. It is this federation that constitutes the new aspect of the experiment. The various systems do not need to be situated in the same place. In this case the pilot is sitting in the Air Force’s Air Combat Simulation Centre in Kista while other systems, including the gunner, are located at the VIKING site in Kungsängen.
Through a radio simulator the fighter controller can be heard in communication with the pilot and with the Combined Air Operations Centre, and when the gunner has his sight set on the hostile aircraft he opens fire. The result is displayed immediately on situation maps and on Google Earth, a directly transmitted satellite picture of the area showing all the gaming activities. In this way the operational commander knows directly what is happening in the field.
“We should like to be able to implement this experiment quite soon in its proper setting,” says Ulf Jinnestrand. Parts of this federation can be exercised regularly by the Air Force, by pilots and at the Air Combat Simulation Centre’s school, while the entire federation could perhaps be exercised together once or twice a year in major exercises.”
Further development of the system is envisaged to enable it to be used with the secure Internet as the carrier, so widening its field of application, not least with classified information. During the course of VIKING there have been visits from both NATO and the EU and the level of interest in the experiment has been high, especially in the Internet possibilities and the ability to take injects from the civil dimension, for example refugee flows which disrupt transport and delay operations.
Actors involved in the experiment include the Air Combat School in Uppsala, the Air Force’s Air Combat Simulation Centre in Kista, the Air Defence Combat School in Halmstad and an American team from the company PLEXSYS which has participated on assignment from the US Air Force Research Laboratory. Coordination has been by SMART-lab and the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration FMV.