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Navy SEALs Rollout New Joint Trainer

Navy News Service

Story Number: NNS110724-01

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Shauntae Hinkle-Lymas, Naval Special Warfare Public Affairs

IMPERIAL BEACH, Calif. (NNS) -- Naval Special Warfare (NSW) Command demonstrated its Joint Terminal Attack Controller Virtual Trainer dome. July 19. The simulator will aid in the training of NSW personnel who call in close-air support during combat.

The new simulator was shown to NSW personnel during an open house at Naval Special Warfare Advanced Training Center (NSWATC).

Joint terminal attack controllers (JTAC) provide final clearance for aircraft weapons release during close-air support operations. NSW's JTAC Program Manager Chief Special Warfare Operator Donald Stokes said the importance of having qualified JTACs cannot be overlooked.

"Every branch of service is required to have JTACs," Stokes said. "To [conduct] close-air support, you have to be JTAC-certified and you have to go to a formal school."

The JTAC Virtual Trainer dome stands 15-feet high with a 16-foot diameter. Inside the dome is a large screen equipped with 15 projectors that display state-of-the-art virtual terrains that can mirror an array of land and weather patterns similar to what operators see in the battlefield, or on the training field.

"All the weather patterns were based on typical meteorological conditions you'd expect to see when you're flying," said Ed Bryan, vice president of Advanced Technologies Division for SDS International, the company that created the dome's software. "You can do ground fog, smoke - you can do all kinds things you would expect when you look outside to be realistic. NSW personnel need to do a realistic mission with realistic weather conditions."

According to Army Lt. Col. Richard Haggerty, Special Operations Command project manager for the new JTAC dome, this model is the first fully immersive, 270 degree by 90 degree fielded joint terminal attack control trainer.

"It does everything from helicopter attack, close combat attack, to fixed wing attacks, to close-air support artillery; all the training that a joint fires or JTAC would have to go out and execute," Haggerty said.

Outside the dome is an instructor computer station that offers a JTAC perspective monitoring of what is going on within the dome. The computer station can also control weather patterns, close-air attacks and other battlefield scenarios. Instructors use the computer station to record respective JTAC missions and replay them during student critiques, which offer immediate feedback and lessons learned.

Glen Loupe, a systems engineer with Product Management Special Operations Forces Training Systems, said that replaying the mission is as critical to the instructor as it is for the student.

"The ground view of where the bad guys are is a totally different picture than where it is from the pilot view," said Loupe. "That's one of the biggest things, making sure you have the focus on the right target."

"I think it's fair to say that it also makes operators better," Haggerty said. "Having this capability 24 hours a day and being able to come in and practice and rehearse, it adds to their level of proficiency. It definitely makes them a lot better."

The JTAC dome will be permanently housed at NSWATC and integrated into the JTAC training pipeline.

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