Digital Transformation of Defence: Synthetic Environments


In the second part in this series of Defence focused Blogs, Hadean’s Defence Business Development and Product Marketing Director looks at the future of Synthetic Environments and their critical Force Preparation and Mission Rehearsal benefits…

4 min read

Many years ago I shared a moment with a company sergeant major; he was a veteran of over 15 years service, I was a new platoon commander less than 6 months out of Sandhurst. We’d had a pretty hard day on the exercise and suffered some heavy losses to artillery fire instrumented by the resident area weapons effects simulator (AWES). His response to this event was palpable at the time and on reflection he acknowledged to me over a brew the impact it had had on him. The effect of the simulation had caused a response in him and those around him that was so realistic it mentally and emotionally returned him to a moment some 12 years earlier in Bosnia. As in war, we learnt a great deal from that moment and fared far better the next time we were faced with such a scenario; and I was glad of that training experience when faced with persistent mortar attacks the following year in Iraq.

The simulation, in that case a Live instrumentation system, had replicated reality to such an extent that those who had experienced similar for real were returned to that moment, and for those that hadn’t, their training experience had been enriched. Synthetic training in all its forms – Live, Virtual or Constructive (LVC) – exists to enhance live training rather than replace it. This is undeniable. The job of military training organisations and the industry that supports them is to make this as realistic, reliable and repeatable as possible (the 3 ‘R’s perhaps!) and to span the continuum from individual and collective training all the way to the higher levels of staff training. Furthermore recognition of the different LVC balance necessary is crucial – the needs of a fast jet pilot will differ from those of a gunner in a main battle tank, or an infantry dismount.

The myriad of requirements makes the principle of flexibility key or one must accept the requirement for bespoke systems and the ability to integrate. Scale and fidelity requirements are increasing exponentially in pursuit of realism, which in turn has its effects on system reliability (and therefore credibility with participants). Innovative ways to reliably deliver the necessary scale and fidelity to the point of user need are being rapidly developed. We at Hadean wholeheartedly believe in the democratisation of the benefits of supercomputing and the optimisation of the network to expedite emerging requirements; supporting the development of LVC training for global militaries is at the heart of this. 

Creating vast scale synthetic environments and the ability to seamlessly distribute across the globe is central to our efforts. At Hadean we can now enable and power multi-domain simulations with millions of entities to distributed participants, allowing us to simulate the scale, complexity and fidelity of real-world scenarios. Our current and emerging government and industry partnerships are showing the relevance and dramatic benefits of these developments. 

The recent Defence Synthetic Environment Platform (DSEP) Industry Day articulated the scale of ambition of the United Kingdom’s Strategic Command, delivering advancements through Defence Digital. In the US it is also clear that the Army Futures Command Synthetic Training Environment (STE) Cross-Functional Team (CFT) values developments in Synthetic Environments to further enhance LVC training.

Those of us still wearing or who once donned a uniform will understand the vast benefits of synthetic training, and the environments in which it occurs. The true value to the organisation is defined by its credibility, realism and ability to deliver the fidelity that suits the user or training outcome. Current systems do that to a degree, as I have demonstrated above with a now nearly 20 year old example, but these systems still lack the scale and fidelity required to accurately represent the complexity and multi-domain nature of the modern battlespace. Furthermore, systems integration is challenging and limits the opportunities for coordinated training across separate geographical locations.

The military philosophy ‘Train Hard, Fight Easy’ remains as valid now as ever and LVC is central to this. What we must do now is reverse the trend that ‘training hard’ occurs due to the limitations of the LVC blend, instead it should be due to the realism, fidelity, integration and complexity of the systems in use.

Read the first blog in this series here, or if you want a bigger overlook of Hadean and our defence solutions, go here. Additionally, we’ll be presenting a webinar around ‘Enabling Command, Operations and Training in a Complex World’, featuring CEO of Cervus Alan Roan.