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NAVAIR Looking at Riverine Simulator

One of the interesting conversations I had down at the Riverine training week at Fort Knox last month was with an instructional systems specialist who works for the Naval Air Warfare Center training systems shop down in Orlando.

The guy — who I’ll keep anonymous since he didn’t clear our conversation with the PAO — has been working since May interviewing instructors (all of whom are either former SEALs or SWCC Sailors) to figure out what would be needed for a potential Riverine craft simulator. He then sat down with the crews for a week and interviewed them.

“First I asked them, what is it that they do?” our NAVAIR friend said of his conversations with instructors and crews. “They each came up with a task list; and we’re looking at how in the world of technology we can come alongside that list and simulate what’s on it.”

He then came down to Knox to ride around in the riverine craft to see for himself.

The expert admitted that it was a hard task. Sure, the Navy can make pretty realistic flight simulators and there’s the ever-important fire simulators that teach Sailors how to fight flames on a ship. But our source admitted that there are so many factors that go into simulating movement on the water — not to mention firing from that platform and creating the dynamic environments where the Riverine Sailors would fight.

“The gleam in the eye is a full blown boat simulator,” our source said. But that would entail making a simulator big — and dynamic — enough to handle seven crew positions (five gunners and a coxswain and boat captain).

“Then there’s a reality check,” he admitted. “We’re trying to create a system as realistic as is beneficial. You can’t give them a river in Venezuela.”

Basically NAVAIR is looking into whether this could be done at a cost that’s reasonable, given the expense of maintaining, running, convoying to training areas and firing on their current fleet of river boats.

“We’re here to see if there’s a bang for their buck,” the NAVAIR source said.

He’ll submit a report of his findings in a couple weeks and the engineers will do some trades to see if it’s doable.

– Christian

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

John moore July 13, 2011 at 4:39 pm

"Riverine craft simulator" Seriously?

How about all the rivers we have in the good old USA all the hard core rafting one can do none of these would suit traing?

Just going by the cost, take one boat to the closest river and learn the real deal please.

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orly? July 13, 2011 at 10:58 pm

Still costs fuel/ammo/maintainence.

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Zap July 13, 2011 at 7:15 pm

i can understand the point in having a simulator for a aircraft that would otherwise cost $20000 every time you take it out , or a tank , but to waste money on a simulator when the alternative is just to take a real boat out on a real river, with the costs being fuel and bullets , seems a bit stupid .

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bbb July 13, 2011 at 8:38 pm

You can't just take a boat out on a river in the US and start shooting live rounds into the banks, and AFAIK there aren't that many rivers that run through military live fire ranges.

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Zap July 14, 2011 at 2:24 am

What in the good old USA ? I thought that is how you all go fishing

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blight July 14, 2011 at 8:54 am

We all fish with our sixguns and cowboy hats

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orly? July 13, 2011 at 10:59 pm

corrosion/maintenance too

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anon July 13, 2011 at 7:40 pm

I can see some advantages in a simulator - much lower risk of serious injury being the obvious one, but I believe the ability to simulate specific geographic locations could be useful for introducing crews to local features - for example mangrove swamp type environments, or perhaps narrow gorges

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blight July 13, 2011 at 9:01 pm

You can simulate rapidly changing scenarios, for instance if you're troubleshooting how to change TTP. We have convoy simulators and tank simulators.

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anon July 14, 2011 at 5:07 am

perhaps even network a couple of simulators together (I'm assuming the main costs will be in design and programming, rather than construction, so extra simulators would make financial sense -0 economies of scale and all) to enable joint opperations training without the risk of fratricide

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usnE6 July 14, 2011 at 7:56 am

we already have small boat simulators. My team used one approx 2 years ago before an overseas deployment. Great toy, but less than realistic and was down for maintenance more than it was up and being used. Also, the "experts" running the thing were each being paid more than the combined pay of our 8 man team.
Give me the real deal and some blank firing adapters for scenario based training anyday.

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David Galloway July 14, 2011 at 12:07 pm

Battlefield 2 bad company has a river craft, This would be very coast effective and great mod with up to 32 players all….. Lan based sim for up to 32 players, with 3 monitors each with a great graphics and lowest LAG possible…

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KSWbeer.com July 14, 2011 at 12:08 pm

And video games like Battlefield and Joint Operations have been around for years, already doing this at a basic level. It wouldn't take much more than reaching out to existing community leaders to get this done. Seriously.

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tomatojuice July 14, 2011 at 12:17 pm

With Battlefield 3 coming out, I could see EA working with the military to produce an even better game/mil sim.

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Cranky Observer July 14, 2011 at 12:34 pm

A gaming company would only charge a few million for the development and perhaps 10s of millions for integration with a low-end mechanical system if full-motion was desired. The majors will bid the program in the "low 100s" (of millions) and bring it in at $200 million or so - system integration problems doncha know. No benefit to anyone in giving it to a gaming company.

Cranky

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blight July 14, 2011 at 1:16 pm

I think the whole point of a riverrine simulator is to replicate the experience as closely as possible. If we're opting for computer screens to replace learn-by-doing training, we may as well eliminate BCT and replace with several rounds of America's Army.

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G8tr July 14, 2011 at 2:29 pm

A lot of good comments above. There's a lot to think about before you can recommend spending millions of taxpayer monies to develop a simulator. The biggest thing though, is will it make a substantial difference to the sailors who man the boats? Will they be better prepared for their missions? Will they be safer while training? Will they be able to train more often (repetition is a key thing)? And these are just some of the questions. So you have to do your study and come up with the answers long before you spend a dime on a simulator. It's a challenge, but well worth it when the simulators do their job and the sailors feel better prepared. As the "guy" mentioned in the story, I've been doing this kind of training analysis for the Navy for almost 40 years, and I always look forward to helping make a difference for our sailors. BTW, I'll be checking back here every now and then to see if I can get some creative ideas from y'all!

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G8tr July 14, 2011 at 2:33 pm

P.S. Riding the boats there in Fort Knox was just about the most fun I've ever been paid to have, especially when the minigun (3000 rounds per minute) went off six feet from me! No way you could simulate the feelings I had at that point! : )

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blight July 14, 2011 at 2:47 pm

I'm confused as to why NAVAIR is responsible for riverine. (Naval Air Systems Command?)

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G8tr July 14, 2011 at 10:19 pm

We actually support all Navy communities. The majority tend to be aviation, so they “own” us. In the 28 years I’ve been at this command I havedeities in almost every community BUT aviation.

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Navyfella July 14, 2011 at 4:27 pm

Why not relocate the Riverines to a more practical spot such as Fort Knox, Camp Lejeune, or Stennis, Miss with SBT20.

The amount of funds spent on per diem, travel, and logistics is insane. One squadron is at NWS Yorktown and doesn't even have a boat ramp. Majority of their training is done hundreds of miles away. They have to fly or have their boats placed onto low boy trailers for the long hauls to Knox cause their prime mover and trailer isn't cut out for that

I know it would take a lot of funds to relocate but within one squadrons training cycle the funds would be justified. Additionally so much more training could be accomplished.

I'm not trying to down the idea of a simulator, the costs would probably be justified in our fuel costs alone. I feel it would be better to look into relocating to a practical spot. The money saved from less movement would be enormous. This would also improve their readiness since equipment would not be needing as much maintenance and more training could be accomplished.

They also require additional travel time, 2-4 days tacked onto their training week which cuts down on training received….just some food for though ;)

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G8tr July 14, 2011 at 10:23 pm

Good thoughts. Must be other issues involved.

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Anon July 15, 2011 at 1:06 am

The requirement seems similar to the Army's Convoy Skills Trainer without the water movement. Might be able to identify some potential issues by talking to III Corps. Further info at: http://www.carson.army.mil/battle_sim/CST.htm http://www.metavr.com/casestudies/convoytrainer.h…

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leesea July 15, 2011 at 1:08 am

The riverines already train at the JMTC in LeJuene. They go to Fort Know for Live Fire trainng which can NOT be done on just any old river as some have mentioned. The Riverines need to be near ships which will lift them to theater and the rest of the NECC units which are related to their mission and to CCD Norfolk who does their boat management.

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Chuck July 15, 2011 at 10:14 am

Give it to Disney. Have you seen there new projects at Orlando?

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