By Rob Koon, NAVAIR Public Affairs
PATUXENT RIVER, MD The first MH-60R Seahawk helicopter Tactical Operational Flight Trainer was recently delivered to the "Seahawks" of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron Four One (HSM-41), the West Coast Fleet Replacement Squadron (FRS) at Naval Air Station North Island, Calif., after an aggressive 41-month design, build, and test schedule.
The trainer will benefit the Fleet by providing a very realistic training environment in which aircrews will be able to train for almost all facets of flight experience, said Lt. Brandon Youngstrom, HSM-41 Romeo Training Officer. It allows instructors to go over everything from basic flight maneuvers and emergency procedures to advanced radio communications and mission scenarios.
The trainer will improve the efficiency of the war fighter by allowing them to practice and perfect skills required in difficult or overwhelming tactical situations. The working relationship with Manned Flight Simulator (MFS) has been great. Since they (MFS) are a government agency with experienced personnel, its very easy to explain what's needed and what has to be done to improve the fidelity of the trainer. Manned Flight then takes care of the rest, added Youngstrom.
Manned Flight Simulator (MFS) recently completed this three year project developing this prototype trainer. It is the first of three being developed by MFS to support HSM-41, who received the first deployed MH-60R Multi-Mission Helicopter (MMH), also known as the Romeo. The Navy is presently consolidating six of their H-60 series helicopters into two platforms, the MH-60R and the MH-60S.
The Romeo is the next generation submarine hunter and surface attack maritime dominance helicopter. It will provide the warfighter with state-of-the-art avionics and a combination of capabilities greatly surpassing previous Navy helicopters, said Cmdr. Ed Balaton, the H-60 Romeo training systems program manager.
The Romeo flight trainer actually consists of two separate trainers that can be combined together. The first trainer is the Operational Flight Trainer (OFT), which contains the high-fidelity cockpit for training the pilot and the Airborne Tactics Officer (ATO). The second trainer is the Weapons Tactics Trainer (WTT), which contains a high fidelity Sensor Operator (SO) station and a partial ATO station. The OFT and WTT can be used individually for simultaneous training or combined for multi-crew training, added Balaton.
These flight trainers allow HSM-41 to train in the virtual world on aircraft systems and sub-systems, currently unfamiliar to anyone in the Fleet. Training on these simulators will benefit the Fleet in several ways. For example, losing an engine at altitude can result in a power off autorotation to the ground, which is workload intensive for the pilot and requires a set of specific skills to successfully land, said Balaton.
The autorotations can be practiced many times in simulation allowing the pilot to polish skills that can potentially save the crews lives if it happened in the real aircraft. Simulators add hours to the life of an aircraft by allowing the aircraft to be used for its primary maritime-dominance warfighting task, rather than training crewmembers. Simulators allow pilots and aircrew to more efficiently use flight time by fully immersing them in the trainer aircraft systems prior to actual flight, continued Balaton.
Delivering a trainer to a program of this magnitude and program phase contained challenges and opportunities to excel for MFS. MFS formed a highly effective team with the Aviation Training Systems program office (PMA205), NAVAIR Orlando Training System Division, and Navy Fleet personnel, said Capt. Randy Black, the aviation training systems program manager. PMA205 provided program direction, coordination, and management support, and a conduit to PMA299, the MH-60R aircraft program office. NAVAIR Orlando supplied systems engineering support and logistics expertise to ensure that the trainer was maintainable and supportable.
Navy Fleet personnel included pilots and aircrew from VX-1, HX-21, and HSM-41 in order to provide immediate feedback during simulator development and test phases. Due to the complexity and development of the Romeo aircraft during various stages of the project, the MH-60R TOFT project required engineers and programmers to be flexible and accommodating to performance the software changes in the aircraft, one of the hallmarks of MFS over its 20 year history, added Black.
MFS leverages simulation solutions to/from the Research and Development Test and Evaluation (RDT&E) flight simulation devices and Fleet training devices to significantly reduce cost and schedule to the program office for the RDT&E and Fleet simulation devices. One of the highlights of the MH-60R TOFT project was the collaboration between the TOFT and the MFS MMH simulator, a Test & Evaluation simulator at Manned Flight, said Chris Sweeney, the Romeo flight trainer program manager at MFS.
The TOFT was able to provide information to and utilize software from the MMH MH-60R/S T&E lab trainer. This synergy allowed TOFT software developers to test initial models on the MMH to ease the development crunch on the TOFT itself. The TOFT team used lessons learned the MMH team garnered from integrating new deliveries of the aircrafts operational program running on the mission computer, flight management computer, and airborne flight control computer, said Sweeney.
The H-60 program office was able to purchase or use systems from the MH-60R TOFT, such as the Multi-Mode Radar system, the acoustic stimulator, the FLIR system, Integrated Self-Defense, Electronic Surveillance Measures, and weapons systems and navigation systems at greatly reduced costs and integration time. Utilizing these resources and collaborating with similar programs helped to save the Navy, both the training community and the T&E community, millions of dollars of cost and schedule, said Sweeney.
NAVAIRs Integrated Battlespace Simulation and Test Departments (IBST) Aircraft Simulation Division in conjunction with the Flight Vehicle Modeling and Simulation Branch form the Manned Flight Simulator Facility (MFS). MFS develops, operates and maintains a real-time, hardware-in-the-loop, pilot-in-the-loop flight simulation laboratory; employing both high and low fidelity simulated aircraft crew-stations, which provides a synthetic environment capable of supporting flying qualities and performance evaluations, aircraft flight test, installed systems test, avionics integration and test. MFS also develops prototype training simulation devices for the Fleet.
"Two Manned Flight Simulator engineers conduct final tests on the MH-60R Tactical Operational Flight Trainer prior to delivery to the "Seahawks" of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron Four One (HSM-41) at Naval Air Station North Island, Calif."