New H-1 Mission Rehearsal Trainer improves capability, readiness
The successful delivery of the new prototype H-1 Mission Rehearsal Trainer (MRT) in February to Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, marks a significant milestone in Marine Light Helicopter Attack Squadron (HMLA) training. Once into production, the deliveries will provide the HMLA community fully transportable MRTs with a small footprint, allowing Marines to practice tactical combat skills, mission scenarios, and maintain combat proficiency while deployed.
“The MRT will be an invaluable resource in maintaining warfighter readiness. The ability to train our pilots, regardless of location, is a game changer for the fleet,” said Col. Vasillios Pappas, Light/Attack Helicopters (PMA-276) program manager.
This delivery is the result of close collaboration between the Naval Aviation Training Systems and Ranges program office (PMA-205), PMA-276, Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division (NAWCTSD), and industry partners Veraxx Engineering Corporation, Northrop Grumman, Varjo, and Aechelon Technology, forming a team with the goal in mind of delivering a deployable trainer using state-of-the-art technology with the same capabilities as a much larger flight training device.
“The combined government and industry team has done a fantastic job capitalizing on new technologies; working together with the joint vision of providing the H-1 fleet the system they need to train while deployed at an affordable cost. They are setting a new standard for what can be done when we work together,” said Capt. Kevin McGee, PMA-205 program manager.
H-1s are uniquely adept at distributed maritime operations to enhance expeditionary advanced base operations from a mix of traditional amphibious and non-traditional ships and shore-based sites. With this in mind, the team designed the MRT with a small footprint, no larger than six-by-six-by-nine-foot dimensions, and it is reconfigurable between a UH-1Y Venom and AH-1Z Viper. It can be assembled and disassembled in less than an hour and the components stored in ruggedized cases that are transportable by hand. The H-1 MRT is light enough that it can be transported anywhere and deployed as long as the infrastructure is in place.
The MRT features a Varjo XR-3 mixed reality headset as the primary visual system, providing the required visual acuity and fidelity necessary for advanced mission scenario and weapon systems training. The successful integration of the XR-3 demonstrated a paradigm shift in training capabilities through the utilization of a head mounted system as the primary display in a training device design for and utilized for advanced combat effectiveness training. The head mounted display is also a natural fit for a deployable trainer, helping to greatly reduce the MRT space required aboard ship.
The team recently completed a multi-year effort to develop a government-owned aerodynamic model that meets or exceeds the proprietary model currently fielded in most H-1 flight training devices, which allowed the team the ability to complete the requirements for the MRT, increasing affordability. The new, government owned H-1 aerodynamic model was extensively validated with aircraft test data and pilot evaluations so that its flight characteristics are representative of the actual aircraft.
“The government team that developed the H-1 aerodynamic model spent a significant amount of time to ensure the flying qualities of the simulator matched the aircraft. The AH-1Z model was developed first, then most of the software was re-used during the development of the UH-1Y model. The team took advantage of the commonality between the AH-1Z and UH-1Y variants, increasing efficiency while developing aerodynamic models for both aircraft”, said Don Gaublomme, Manned Flight Simulator, H-1 Aero Model team lead.
The H-1 MRT team also achieved another first with the successful emulation/simulation of the H-1 Mission Computer (MC) which relieves the trainers of a dependence on long-lead, short supply, and often expensive aircraft Government Furnished Equipment (GFE). The emulated MC paves the way for possibilities to integrate this technology into all other existing H-1 training systems, freeing up assets needed by fleet aircraft.
Because the H-1 training team needed to research and build a prototype prior to entering production, they were able to use Other Transaction Authority (OTA) processes that allow a more flexible partnership between the government and industry teams to develop and integrate newer technologies and capabilities. From start to finish the OTA processes were streamlined and efficient in reducing overall project completion and ensure a close government and industry partnership necessary to meet the fleet’s needs.
Currently, the H-1 MRT is in production and on schedule to deliver to the fleet beginning in 2025.
PMA-276 manages the cradle to grave procurement, development, support, fielding and disposal of the Marine Corps rotary wing close air support, anti-armor, armed escort, armed/visual reconnaissance and fire support program systems.
PMA-205 provides full life-cycle acquisition of naval aviation training platforms, general training systems, training range instrumentation systems, and distributed mission training centers to provide Navy and Marine Corps pilots, naval flight officers, aircrew, and maintainers with the training equipment required to provide superior capability and operational readiness. The program office manages flight simulators, part-task trainers, maintenance trainers, airborne and underwater training range instrumentation, threat systems, and associated curricula to ensure optimum performance for naval aviation.