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Live, Virtual and Constructive (LVC) is a pilot training technique used to enrich modern fourth and fifth-generation pilot training. LVC employs its three main components, Live (pilot in an aircraft), Virtual (pilot in an aircraft simulator) and Constructive (purely software simulated training asset). LVC has revolutionized the way air forces train. It has alleviated the challenges resulting from reduced training asset availability, provided a plethora of adversary assets to train against and enabled fourth and fifth-generation aircraft training scenarios that are simply not possible without the introduction of simulation that LVC brings to air combat training.
Because training assets are simulated, LVC air combat training develops a pilot’s knowledge and skills with an extensive syllabus containing a wide range of training scenarios. Pilots appreciate LVC because it enables them to make diverse, first-time mistakes during a benign training mission rather than tested for the first time in a mortal combat situation.
The F-35 is the world’s most capable and most complex fifth-generation fighter/bomber aircraft. The three variant F-35 family of aircraft are all single seater aircraft without a back seat for trainees to learn the complex fifth generation air combat tactics. A single F-35 can ward off more advisory aircraft and ground assets than can realistically be produced in a typical training mission. The synthetic enrichment afforded by LVC is critical for fifth-generation aircraft training effectiveness.
The benefits of LVC training do not stop at the training quality and diversity that pilots receive. Daily operational and maintenance costs required to support in-flight combat training are reduced. Less maintenance cost comes along with the benefit of less wear and tear on equipment. The net effect is fewer jets are required to fly sorties for the same or higher level of training effectiveness.
As air combat complexities continue to grow, current and future pilots commanding the world’s most advanced aircraft will rely on LVC training for the most realistic and effective air combat training.
Why is LVC Training Important?
Evolving tactics and techniques in combat scenarios, from both sides of the front line, are essential for air warfighters to learn. With advanced adversarial aircraft and ground threats on the horizon, today’s fourth-generation aircraft trainer-aggressors are unable to simulate maneuvers and platform designs that are creating a more complex battlefield in the skies.
Today’s LVC training increases flexibility to create a broad range of scenarios to pull from. Realistic command and control constructs can be woven into training sessions. Full employment of diverse weapon platforms and specific weapon use are the forte of LVC.
LVC is more than a tool for pilots in air combat training. Weapons are also advancing and becoming more complex for pilots. LVC allows pilots to perform live training with new weapons that are still under design. A high-fidelity physics-based simulation of the new weapon gives pilots experience in using the new weapon technologies in an air combat scenario. An LVC bonus is that pilots can now provide feedback to the weapon developers. This experience enables weapon developers to optimize new weapons for ease of use and overall enhanced combat effectiveness.
As simulation techniques progress, LVC will increasingly become more immersive for a more profound post-training mission experience. With new display techniques, a pilot’s training experience can be more realistically recreated post mission. This is a further reinforcement of the training experience by reliving it and, if needed, modifying weapon deployment to effect a different or more successful outcome. This immersive post-mission experience can be shared with other pilots. As a result, the experience of one pilot is multiplied during post-mission action review by sharing the LVC experience with the training squadron in a group mission analysis.
The Challenges of LVC Training.
LVC air combat training has been improving pilot performance for almost 30 years. With its continued use, technology improvements and lessons learned are developed and added into the training syllabus, continuously building a stronger training tool and better pilots.
However, there are potential difficulties. This type of training employs different degrees of simulation conformity. Instances of simulation have been found to be too loosely coupled with reality. When this occurs, the effectiveness of the training degrades, and extreme “negative training” could be the result. LVC must be carefully crafted and always remain physics-based and oriented to human nature. LVC requires the imperative of simulation verification and validation before used in any training scenario. As LVC is increasingly incorporated into complex U.S. military air combat training missions, an improved set of checks and balances must be placed in the design and development of the simulations used in LVC training.
As simulations are increasingly fine-tuned to ensure the most effective real-life training is developed, a significant reduction in time in training pilots will also be recognized. The Air Force already sees a reduction in flight time required for proficiency in air combat. This trend will continue with new pilots gaining more experience in complex scenarios more quickly. For the requalification of experienced pilots, a metric based LVC training solution lets the pilots focus on specific skill sets in an LVC setting rather than requalifying with a single broad-based syllabus.
What is Available Now?
Externally attached “pod” based systems like the P5 Combat Training System (CTS) for fourth-generation aircraft with a highly-fidelity instrumentation data link and data recording; and the Tactical Combat Training System Increment II (TCTS II), with an encrypted tactical training system, both from Leonardo DRS, are examples of LVC training systems that train U.S. combat pilots and continue to improve based on technology advancements and lessons learned.
Newer P5 internally mounted systems for fifth-generation fighters, like the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) P5 internal subsystem, supports JSF-to-JSF training operations in addition to JSF-to-legacy P5 CTS dissimilar air combat training. Leonardo DRS also produces P5-compatible internally mounted compact systems such as the P5 M346 system for small jet fighter training and “red” opposition force aircraft.
These systems are all important to ensure U.S. combat pilots flying all front line fighter jets receive the training that will meet future needs.
As the air combat environment increases in complexity, syllabus demands and the lessons learned also increase. LVC training will continue to adapt and meet requirements to effectively deliver the required level of training.
The LVC training technique compartmentalizes these training complexities. When employed correctly, the advantages of LVC are multi-fold. LVC insures that air combat training for fourth and fifth-generation pilots will continue to keep the training efficiency high and continue to produce the best air combat pilots in the world.