How the foundation of Top Gun tech remains essential to modern warfighters.

By Mike Knowles, President, Cubic Mission & Performance Solutions

During the early stages of the Vietnam War, United States Navy Fighter Pilots struggled to achieve tactical success in air combat against their adversaries. After extensive research, the Navy published a detailed study reviewing potential shortcomings called the Ault Report in 1972, which  led to the creation of the “Advanced Fighter Weapons School.” The same year, the first Air Combat Maneuverability Instrumentation (ACMI) system was delivered by Cubic. The system utilized a mixture of remote range units connected with a ground station and long-range datalinks to provide real and continuous time, space and position information of each participating aircraft during training exercises. This new technology brought “Truth in Training” alive, allowing Fleet pilots to perform mission exercises anytime from anywhere delivering extreme accuracy on their performance. 

These accurate readings of performance and proficiency allowed instructors to review invaluable data on trainee Tactics, Techniques and Procedures. 

Innovation Behind The Fighter Pilots 

Despite rapid advancements in technology, the basic concepts for the ACMI system are still utilized today. Modern technology has also created faster ways to create datalinks and rates, meaning more trainees can participate in each exercise. Today, the ACMI technology can track hundreds of aircraft data, noting performance and other details at any time. This can be used to monitor and track weapons employment, relative positioning in the air, velocity and more. The original system that aided Top Gun pilots in the 1970s has become a vital part of turning trainees into mission ready aircrew prepared for any potential real-world situation. 

Along with providing precise Aircraft Time, Space and Position Information, related threat presentation information and multi-domain effects are implemented into Live exercises. 

ACMI cutting-edge technology continues to evolve, integration and monitoring techniques, compile informative data into multi-domain visualizations for training purposes. Highly detailed views of the cockpit, mission reports and assessments are all available during training sessions – both successes and failures are learning experiences. 

Data: The Secret Behind Flight Experts 

The unrivaled  technology provides situational awareness to aircrew trainees and their instructors in the cockpits. Meaning, both parties receive an improved presentation of their surroundings, allowing instructional objectives to be created based on accurate and timely data received from each training mission. Current tactical U.S. aircraft are all outfitted with the ACMI system, including helicopters. This system provides benefits outside of training future fighter pilots, making it versatile and a key innovation among aerospace technologies. 

Looking toward the future, encounters with both Blue and Red 5th Gen platforms and effects have made physical training ranges out-of-date. Physical ranges cannot accurately duplicate the complexity and density of the next fight, meaning the future of aircrew trainees is a mix of virtual, live and constructive players that will provide them with the right training environment. 

NextAdvantage All-Domain Training: The Future Of Fighter Pilot Training

However, the need for innovative training solutions is still present. Preparing for tomorrow’s fight, requires solutions fielded by 2025 and those solutions are available now. Cubic Mission and Performance Solutions is the industry leader for blended All-Domain Live, Virtual Constructive (LVC) training, meeting the challenges of tomorrow today. NextAdvantage™️ allows for a variety of solutions with previously unseen realism, readiness and economic efficiency by providing our warfighters with the tools necessary to meet and engage with capable enemies at any moment no matter the location. 

Accurate representations of threat environments are not formed with physical aircraft alone. Realistic examples of surface capability, enemy aircraft and other values of combat effectiveness can all be created through Live, Virtual and Constructing systems utilized to depict effective and combat-intense missions for aircrew under instruction. Technology most people would recognize from the “Top Gun” movie are constantly being improved through faster, more enhanced data capabilities, as well as more complicated adversarial environments that combine both virtual and physical training experiences to provide an intensive regime for trainees. 

One of the most notable capabilities that originates from the system is the blended training tool options, featuring both live and constructive environments for training missions. A unique aspect of the system is a term called “guising.” In other words, the technology can take any aircraft equipped with a training pod and transform it into any threat aircraft. The sky is the limit using ACMI and LVC aerospace training technology. The military is revolutionizing their training environments resulting in increased effectiveness for the aircrew. 

Tomorrow’s fight creates a new challenge, one we are supporting our warfighters to meet with accuracy and strength. To meet advanced and capable peer enemies, the Training community led by Instructors at Top Gun are crucial in creating the authentic training environments Fleet aircrew see today and in the future.

Previous articleLoadsmart’s Opendock Provides Visibility
Next articleTeledyne FLIR Broadens Ignite Cloud Workflow