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CSCSU Great Lakes Installing Updated Radar Partial Task Trainer

Navy News Service

Story Number: NNS150924-03
Release Date: 9/24/2015 10:20:00 AM

By Zach Mott, Training Support Center Great Lakes Public Affairs

GREAT LAKES, Ill. (NNS) -- The Center for Surface Combat Systems Unit (CSCSU) Great Lakes is installing updated radar simulator partial task trainers (PTT) for students over the next few weeks.

The new PTTs are currently being installed in order to modernize the training and to provide systems that more closely resemble those found aboard current ships in the fleet.

Once complete, there will be 28 simulators for use by early 2016 following installation and training for instructors.

'The longevity part of this is we won't have to replace these when something new comes along,' said Pam Jacobsen, an instructor supervisor for CSCSU and a retired master chief electronics technician. 'Every single thing inside this radar, all the signals, are computer generated.'

Jacobsen helped on the design and functionality of the new simulators to ensure it met the needs of the CSCSU students. Course curriculum for the new PTT was updated as well.

'We're trying to incorporate (the new technology) here and using test equipment that they're going to be seeing in the fleet as well,' she said. 'We've always been doing that but we want to make sure that we're building on what they're learning every single day.'

Additionally, inserting faults for the students to find is no longer a time-consuming process. With a few clicks of a computer mouse faults can be applied with no noticeable changes to the machines.

'We can change faults out quickly,' said Cmdr. Gregory Ludwig, the commanding officer of CSCSU. '[The students] can see a fully functional radar or we can revert back to a faulty radar.'

The new PTT mimics the current technology available in all ships and allows Sailors to interact with the system as if it were a fully functioning on board radar. The PTT is a bridge between the old AN/SPS-64 and the current AN/SPS-73, Jacobsen said.

'When a student walks up to it, they can use their test equipment and they make a check they're going to see what they're supposed to see there,' Jacobsen said. 'Everything gets run through a computer system and an IO board. It's really a much better way to train.'

Because the system is fully automated, software updates can be installed quickly rather than developing a new machine and a subsequent installation process that can take years.

This upgrade is necessary because the previous system, the AN/SPS-64, is no longer a viable training option as replacement parts are tougher and tougher to find and the system is no longer used in the fleet.

The ability to make changes and upgrade the systems allows the Navy to keep pace with emerging technologies in the industry and allows Sailors to be better prepared when they arrive to their next assignment. Training at CSCSU teaches Sailors basic operation principles needed to troubleshoot the equipment and make necessary repairs.

'We didn't want to make it too complicated for the apprentice level Sailor,' Jacobsen said. 'We are just trying to teach them how a basic radar works. We try to focus on the task, not the piece of equipment.'

For most of the Sailors in these CSCSU courses that next stop is a 'C' school where they will receive training specific to the equipment of their assigned ship. Jacobsen said knowing the procedures and being confident in them is what will serve the Sailors best in their future schools and assignments.

'From a fleet perspective you always want to get a Sailor who can follow procedure and is somewhat confident in what they're doing,' she said. 'You don't want somebody going out there and doing something silly and getting shocked. And by the same token, if they're too afraid to touch a piece of equipment that's, to me, just as dangerous as someone being overconfident.'

This new PTT will help strike that balance between being timid and being overconfident. It will also save the Navy training time and, ultimately, money.

'They can sit down and they can manipulate all the pieces, parts on the computer,' Jacobsen said. 'That also helps build confidence. That helps the instructor too. It's less time explaining stuff in the classroom.'

That benefit is echoed through the chain of command as well.

'You're paying one lump sum for the radar and you end up getting a lot of great capability,' Ludwig said. 'These are awesome training aides.'

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