Practice Makes Perfect: US Army Awards Contract for Helicopter Crew Simulators
We have all heard the phrase “practice makes perfect.” For pilots and their crew, practice can save lives.
But pilot and crew practice can be costly and sometimes risky. To reduce the cost and risk, the US military often uses simulators that re-create the experience of flying safely on the ground.
The US Army uses Aviation Combined Arms Tactical Trainer (AVCATT) simulators to train pilots on its CH-47 Chinook and UH-60 Blackhawk heavy lift helicopters. Now, the service wants to use simulators to train crew members who operate the guns and the sling load and hoist operations for carrying cargo.
The Army recently awarded a delivery order to SAIC in McLean, VA to develop and deliver helicopter crew member simulators. The delivery order was awarded under the Army’s $17.5 billion 2nd STRI (simulation, training and instrumentation) Omnibus Contract (STOC II)…
The Non-rated Crew Member Manned Module (NCM3) simulators will integrate with the Army’s AVCATT simulators. The contract has a 28-month base period of performance, a single option for a second variant, and a total value of more than $12 million if the option is exercised. The contract could lead to production of 21 NCM3 simulators.
The NCM3 is a mobile multi-station simulator designed to support individual, crew and collective training. Under the delivery order, SAIC will design, develop, integrate, test, deliver and maintain 2 mobile variants equipped with helicopter crew member simulator modules to support gunnery and crew coordination training.
SAIC will work with Binghamton Simulator Co. in Binghamton, NY on development of the simulator under a $4.5 million subcontract. Rep. Maurice Hinchey [D-NY], who represents the district in which Binghamton is located, said that the simulator work will add 10 jobs to the company and will save money on flight time, fuel and ammunition costs.
According to the FedBizOpp solicitation, the NCM3 simulators need to be able to:
- train individual non-rated crew members of cargo and utility helicopters in the conduct of door gunnery, sling-load operations, crew coordination, and actions in a virtual environment with the capability to conduct realistic, high intensity, task-loaded collective and combined arms training exercises and mission rehearsals;
- integrate fully with AVCATT simulators;
- replicate the crew stations of the UH-60 (each side, for a total of 2) and CH-47 (up to 3 non-rated crew members, each side and 1 on the tail);
- be mobile and transportable;
- be able to network via local area network (LAN) and/or wide area network (WAN) with AVCATTs, other combined arms tactical trainers, other distributed interactive simulation (DIS) compliant systems and be interoperable with multiple digital and/ or non-digital tactical operations centers (TOC).
The US Army, Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation (PEO STRI), in Orlando, FL, manages the contract. It expects to purchase additional NCM3s in the FY 2011 through FY 2015 timeframe.