By Ben Sherman, Fort SillJuly 5, 2012
Air defenders at Fort Sill now have a new Patriot missile system simulator.
Students began using the Cognitive Air Defense Training Systems, or CAD-TS, last month in Monti Hall.
"The lessons learned from the last Gulf War in 2003 were that we had to provide from individual level air defense artillery Soldier training all the way to the most advanced level, graduate education we can to meet the modern battlefield," said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Phil Puckett, 1st Battalion, 56th Air Defense Artillery.
Puckett went on to explain that the new CAD-TS system is an entire battalion set of Patriot missile defense artillery.
"It's hard to learn in two-dimensions. That's what the new system is all about. Each one of the mockups are schematically perfect representations of the fire units that the Soldiers actually operate from," he said.
"What you have demonstrated here is one complete Patriot battalion tied globally to wherever the Air Force kill-chain operation center is, in a joint war fighting network. We can attach to any coordinated command to join in all of the air defense exercises to meet the ballistic missile threat," Puckett said. "We can use this in every form of education, from the Basic Officer Leader Course, the Warrant Officer courses, the Captains Career Course, any type of air defense training."
The Army has worked on this system for eight years, Puckett said, adding air defenders have trained on monochromatic two-dimensional displays. Every action they are required to do in combat are all physically correct, and they all replicate the actions that they have to take in combat operations.
"A battle manager sits in his Engagement Control Station. He can pick up incoming aircraft, ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, anti-radiation missiles, a complete suite of threats. We teach the students to identify whether the target is friendly or enemy and then how to respond," Puckett said. "Very shortly we are going to go from this monochrome representation to color graphics. The screens that are displayed in training and combat that the Soldiers see are yellow, which represents the tracks of unknown missiles or aircraft that have yet to be identified for engagement; red for hostile tracks that need to be engaged; and blue for friendly tracks that are not to be engaged."
"We can take an 18-year old Soldier, give him the basic battle management skills he needs to operate in-theater and provide for his advanced level progression up to a battle management expert," he said. "While students participate in the simulated air battles, it is all recorded. Afterward, we sit with the students and point out everything they did right and the things they could do better, or should have observed and failed to."
All of these simulators are networked into an auditorium that can seat 100 students. There it becomes a larger forum for training purposes, where instructors can train from one student to an entire battalion at one time. Images are converted into three dimensions on three 25-foot tall screens that students can see.
"You have the strategic level world view in three dimensions, and we move it over to the screen on the left side and you get the actual zoom-in of whatever target they are looking at. If they hook a hostile symbol on that target, it appears in 3-D in real time on the display. So if they hooked an F-16, they will actually see a model of that F-16 flying in real time, in real space, in theater," Puckett said.
Puckett said he feels the new system will improve training and help develop muscle memory for the Soldiers that they need for combat. It will also save time and money. Puckett added Soldiers used to train outdoors, but the simulator replaces that in a more cost-effective and time-intensive manner.
"It has all of the aspects of popular video games kids play now, except it is specifically applicable to combat operations and the jobs our Soldiers have to accomplish," he said. "It may feel like a game, but it is very much reality," he said.