The Army is looking to reach initial operational capability for its Synthetic Training Environment program by September 2021, and has asked industry to focus on virtualized direct fire and short-range indirect capabilities for the effort’s imminent contracts.

Officials from the Army’s STE Cross Functional Team held an industry day Wednesday and announced the program will focus on four efforts: a Common Synthetic Environment (CSE), an air and ground Reconfigurable Virtual Collective Trainer (RVCT) and Live Force-on-Force training, with the first contracts to be awarded in June.

A Stryker vehicle commander interacts in real time with a Soldier avatar that is operated remotely from a collective trainer. (U.S. Army photo)

STE is the Army’s program to build a new capability that brings together live, virtual and constructive simulators to improve training for multi-domain operations.

For the CSE component of the program, officials told industry to propose software-centric, reconfigurable offerings to help the service move away from current hardware-heavy, stovepiped virtual training simulators that require high sustainment costs.

“The CSE is the unified simulation environment units and soldiers use for training. The CSE provides soldiers and units a realistic digital representation of the dynamic [operational environment] and the military capabilities in the scenario; to support collective training from squad through [service component commands],” officials wrote on slides accompanying the industry day. “The desired CSE solution is a modular opens systems approach architecture.”

The Army also announced it will go after both an air and ground version for RCVT component of the STE.

RCVT-AIR will replace the Army’s Aviation Combined Arms Collective Trainer and be used for AH-64, UH-60, CH-47, and UH-72 helicopter aircrew training within the STE. The system will also be interoperable with RCTV-ground.

Capability requirements for RCVT-Air include providing realistic combined arms training and mission rehearsal, support manned-unmanned teaming objectives and build the system to be reconfigurable within 30 minutes.

RCVT-Ground will consist of battalion-level and company-level suites, and is intended to replace the Army’s current Close Combat Tactical Trainer and Reconfigurable Vehicle Tactical Trainer.

“RCVT-Ground will provide a virtual simulation training capability that allows formations to conduct collective gunnery and combined arms maneuver training from crew/squad through battalion level for all Army component formations, sufficiently representing both dismounted and platformed capabilities at the point of need,” officials said.  

The Army asked industry to ensure the system provides realistic gunnery and combined arms training and mission rehearsal, offers air and ground integration capabilities and allows users to conduct training at the point of need, including home stations and combat training centers.

Potential technologies to be procured for RCVT include virtual and augmented reality displays, precision mapping and tactile feedback tools for haptics and head, hand and eye tracking equipment.

Officials also said they are challenging industry to improve Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System technology required for STE’s Live Training Environment component. Current capabilities don’t provide replication for 40 percent of brigade combat weapons require for live force-on-force training, according to the Army.

“To replicate/represent all weapons, a new solution is required to capture the engagement of weapons effects between live entities in the training environment,” the Army said.

The Army currently doesn’t have replicated capabilities for M9 pistols, MAAWS anti-tank weapons, hand grenades and 60mm munitions. Officials said they have partial capabilities for M4A1 rifles, M249 machine guns, M203 grenade launchers and javelin missiles.

All contracts for STE are expected to be awarded as Other Transaction Agreements through the Training and Readiness Accelerator consortium.