REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. — It has trained thousands of Soldiers and was created right here at the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center.
Together with the Army Game Studio and the Program Executive Office Simulation, Training and Instrumentation, the DEVCOM AvMC Prototype Integration Facility, or PIF, created the Stryker Virtual Collective Trainer for the Combined Arms Center. The trainer augments live training by providing Soldiers the opportunity to become familiar with the family of Stryker armored fighting vehicles before reaching the battlefield. It has been so successful at its job, what was meant to be a two-year lifespan for the trainer has now been expanded to 10.
What makes the SVCT so indispensable? It is low-cost compared to other legacy system trainers, yet highly effective at its job.
“It is a shoot, move, communicate video game,” said Jeff Loudin, project lead for the Stryker trainer. “This is Virtual Battlespace 3.”
Virtual Battlespace 3 — the Army’s flagship training game — was implemented in the SVCT to train platoons and dismounted infantry on how to work together in a multitude of battlefield scenarios. The physical vehicle mock-up, built and integrated by the PIF, includes all key positions that one would find in the actual Stryker vehicle. The PIF worked with the Army Game Studio to implement a multitude of training scenarios for the software.
“[The] Army Game Studio provided software development updates, setup and initial operational training for the Stryker Virtual Collective Trainer at all locations,” said Michael Barnett, SVCT software lead. “The AGS personnel worked with the PIF to image hundreds of computer systems with the most current Army approved operating system and drivers, installed, and licensed the SVCT software at Redstone facilities before systems were fielded. They also traveled to the each of the SVCT site locations and configured, initialized and tested the SVCT software, while conducting onsite SVCT operational training with local personnel.”
As the Army undergoes its once-in-a generation transformation into the Army of 2030, DEVCOM AvMC’s higher headquarters, Army Futures Command, leads a set of priorities aiming to spearhead that innovation. Priority number six is Soldier Lethality, with a subheading of Synthetic Training Environment. The SVCT is the very definition of that.
And while it is a lower fidelity product, Loudin said, it doesn’t need to be high fidelity when the objective of the trainer is to teach the teams not how to fight, but rather how to work together in a fight.
The simulators are maintained by the PIF and while having hardware in multiple locations can be challenging, Loudin said that they have built strong relationships with the Soldiers and civilians operating the trainers — meaning if they need any troubleshooting or hardware parts for the trainers regardless of where they are in the world, “we will make it happen.”
“We here at the PIF don’t like to allow challenges,” Loudin said. “We like to dispose of them.”
The DEVCOM Aviation & Missile Center, headquartered at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, is the Army’s research and development focal point for advanced technology in aviation and missile systems. It is part of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM), a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command. AvMC is responsible for delivering collaborative and innovative aviation and missile capabilities for responsive and cost-effective research, development and life cycle engineering solutions, as required by the Army’s strategic priorities and support to its Cross-Functional Teams.