Polish Simulators for Leopard MBT on the Export Market

4 września 2018, 16:30
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Norwegian Leopard 2 tanks training in Poland. The Norwegian tank crews utilize simulators developed by the Polish Autocomp-Management company. Image Credit: Ole-Sverre Haugli, Hæren

Polish Autocomp Management company (ACM) based in Szczecin has been active on the simulators and training systems market since almost 3 decades. SWSB Śnieżnik (SWSB - System for Support of Combat Training) is the most recognizable of the Autocomp’s products. It has been developed in collaboration with the Polish Military Institute of Armament Technology (WITU) based in Zielonka and is being used for many purposes by the Polish military. Simulator systems manufactured by ACM, including the ones designed to replicate the Leopard 2 tanks, are also present on the European market, as well as outside of Europe.

Autocomp Management has been conducting its business successfully on the foreign markets too. The company is delivering its products to numerous customers from a variety of countries around the world, including clients based in Germany, Qatar, Brazil, Singapore or the Czech Republic. Activities as such are, above all, related to high demand for modern simulators in many countries which translates into dynamic development of the company. The fact that ACM employs experienced experts and employees and develops its technical facilities dynamically contributes to the overall business development. The representatives of the company also point out that maintaining a relationship with the customers also plays an important role in that process. Their remarks and proposals are a useful form of feedback that is a seed of creation when it comes to entirely new, original solutions. 

Currently the company conducts its activities in the following domains, related to simulators and training systems:

  • Various car simulators, manufactured primarily to meet the requirements of driver training facilities and major transport companies;
  • Train and railway simulators;
  • Ships control, navigation, maintenance and harbour handling simulators;
  • Military simulators for the Polish military, dedicated for a variety of domains and delivered as a response to the Polish Armed Forces’ requirements, as well as to the requirements of other states, including the NATO allies.

The latter domain is currently viewed as one of the most important elements of the Autocomp’s activities. Aside from the very well known Śnieżnik or Jaskier family simulators, the company is also offering net-centric Spartan simulators that simulate the activities undertaken by the individual branches of the military. With the use of the implemented DIS/HLA interfaces this system may also work together with the solutions listed above, as well as with the TH-1, ASPT, AGPT, Tasznik or other simulators that are already in use.

Similar systems are also offered as an export product. For instance, Autocomp Management, working together with the German Krauss-Maffei Wegmann GmbH & Co. KG (KMW) entity (manufacturer and integrator of the Leopard MBTs), has delivered simulators and training modules for a Leopard 2 battalion battle group to the Norwegian military training facilities. Noteworthy, the Norwegian Army operates Leopard 2A4NO tanks belonging to two armoured-mechanized battalions subordinated to the Brigade Nord. Elements of one of those battalions, known as Telemark, were deployed to Poland within the framework of the first ever NATO VJTF exercise: Noble Jump 2015. The Norwegian Leopard tanks also used to be periodically deployed to Lithuania, within the framework of Enhanced Forward Presence, a reinforcement initiative adopted during the Warsaw summit, back in 2016. These tank crews utilize Polish equipment for training purposes.

The Norwegian facility utilizes the following systems, among other solutions:

  • Combat compartment simulator that replicates, with a high degree of fidelity and accuracy, the commander, gunner and loader stations, and features replicas of a gun and its recoil mechanism. The system also offers “open hatch view” function with a cupola that displays the battlefield situation.
  • Simulator of the driver’s compartment, replicating his station with full functionality;
  • After Action Review (AAR) station that makes it possible to thoroughly analyze and assess every step taken by the trainees, during execution of the tasks assigned to them.
  • Special auditorium;
image
Leopard tank combat compartment simulator. Image Credit: Autocomp-Management

 A fragment of the auditorium. Picture: ACM. 

A fragment of the auditorium. Picture: ACM. 

  • CGF stations;
  • IOS (Instructor/system operator) stations to simulate engagements.

The equipment delivered makes it possible to train the Leopard 2 crews in a complex manner, with attention paid to using the system, including firing the main gun and the remaining armament. Furthermore, the simulator also lets the user to carry out tactical training simulations (battle organization and combat scenarios for armoured elements), including, in particular, perfecting of the skills of tank platoon and company commanders.

Fennek reconnaissance vehicle simulator is another of ACM’s offerings prepared together with KMW. This platform is operated by German, Dutch and Qatar armed forces.

Fennek reconnaissance vehicle simulator. Image Credit: ACM.
Fennek reconnaissance vehicle simulator. Image Credit: ACM.

This simulator fully replicates the functionalities of all of the vehicle crew stations, including the open-hatch setting. “Open hatch view” projection system has been used for that purpose.

Interior of the Fennek reconnaissance vehicle simulator. Image Credit: ACM.
Interior of the Fennek reconnaissance vehicle simulator. Image Credit: ACM.

The simulator in question makes it possible to conduct teaching and enhance the skills of the crew, within the scope of controlling the vehicular systems. Thus, the system facilitates reconnaissance training involving the autonomous reconnaissance instruments and onboard armament. The training may be taking place at location where the reconnaissance elements are deployed, without a need to execute a time-consuming and costly training involving the actual combat equipment.

Interior of the Fennek reconnaissance vehicle simulator. Image Credit: ACM.
Interior of the Fennek reconnaissance vehicle simulator. Image Credit: ACM.

TTT (Table Top Trainer) systems are a product that has been developed in collaboration with KMW. This solution is dedicated for the crews of the Leopard 1 and 2 MBTs and for the crews of the mobile bridges supporting the MBTs on the battlefield, based on the tank platforms. This type of a simulator has been deployed both in the Bundeswehr’s armoured battalions, as well as in the Swiss, Swedish and Greek armed forces. The system is also used to train the crew in operating the unmanned gun used on the vehicles. 

TTT systems are placed on standardized desk-sized tables. Thanks to the above feature it is easy to transport and deploy those systems to a variety of locations, including military units or locations where the given unit is temporarily deployed. Furthermore, the logistics and costs related to adaptation of the room are limited to a bare minimum.

TTT stations for a Leopard MBT crew, including the instructor station. Image Credit: Autocomp-Management.
TTT stations for a Leopard MBT crew, including the instructor station. Image Credit: Autocomp-Management.

The system does not need any specially adapted rooms to launch the simulation. The only requirement is to maintain the temperature within the range between +17°C and + 35°C. The system may be continuously operated for a period of at least more than 12 hours in an uninterrupted manner.

TTT tank commander station. Image Credit: Autocomp-Management.
TTT tank commander station. Image Credit: Autocomp-Management.

TTT series simulators make it possible to carry out training for the individual members of the tank crews (in a divided manner), however they may also be used to integrate the whole crews as well as to perfect the platoon and company commander skills within the scope of battle organization and combat. The simulator system in question also allows the user to train the firing and tactical procedures, starting from the stage at which the tank crew gets acquainted with the principles of operation of the aiming systems and gun mechanisms, and finishing with enhancement of the skills within the scope of effectively firing the onboard armament.

TTT systems make it possible to create any training scenario, both for the trainees as well as for the commanders. The scenarios may cover forming proper combat formations or firing the guns within a wide scope: from firing a gun of an individual tank, to commanding an engagement involving a platoon and company. The wide range of applications available makes it possible to create any tactical scenario, both defensive as well as offensive ones, in any weather conditions and at any time of the day. 

Virtual battlefield space and high quality constitute the common feature of those simulation systems. TTT series simulators could also be quickly embedded in the structure of the Polish main battle tank battalions, especially within the scope of training the crews of the Leopard 2PL and 2A5 (A4) vehicles. As the Leopard 2A5 elements are transferred to the Wesoła garrison, it is expected that a simulators-equipped training facility is also established there. 

TTT technology may also be used by Autocomp Management to develop new versions of these systems for other platforms, including Krab self-propelled howitzers, Rak self-propelled mortars, future IFVs, PT-91 main battle tanks or other types of military vehicles. So far we do not know a lot about procurement of simulation systems in Poland, for instance for the newly acquired artillery assets, even though they have been successfully introduced into the Polish military.

The most common variant of the TTT system has been designed for the purpose of training the Leopard 1/2 tank crews (2A4, 2A5 or even the 2PL variant). TTT acts as an integrated solution consisting usually of 4 to 5 modules, with loader or without him - depending on the configuration adopted. Within the framework of individual training one may carry out vehicle maneuvering training, firing training with the use of the basic elements of the fire control systems, usage of the Hunter Killer solution etc. 

Each of the modules features an integrated transport frame that makes it possible to rapidly prepare it for operation or transport. The system also includes integrated computers, displays, electronic and executive systems, all required for the simulator to function. The kit includes elements as follows: 

  • IOS Module (Instructor – System Operator);
  • CMDR Module (Vehicle Commander);
  • DRV Module (Driver), with a detachable foot-pedals module;
  • LDR Module (Loader, optional);
  • Accessory box, including wiring and external hardware (headphones, mouse and keyboard for the instructor, driver’s foot-pedals module, wiring) required to launch the system.

TTT may be prepared for operation in 30 minutes by 4 operators. It may also be integrated with the existing Śnieżnik solution. TTT simulator makes it possible to carry out bilateral training as well. This means that some of the users may act as the adversary which enhances the realism of the training in combat against the enemy armoured and mechanized units. 

Autocomp Management also offers very high fidelity cabin simulators for Leopard drivers, that provide full functionality of the driver’s station. Not only is the tank equipment itself simulated, as the system also takes the environmental (e.g. terrain’s) impact on the tank operation into the equation. The simulator systems are operated outside Europe as well, in Qatar for instance - there they are used by the Leopard 2A7+ tank crews. Brazil uses the Polish simulators to train the tank crews of the older Leopard 1A5 vehicles. Not only does use of such simulators enhance the training effectiveness, as it also limits the cost of training and also means that exposure to wear of the primary combat equipment is diminished too.  

Figure 8: Leopard 1A5 driver compartment. ACM.
Figure 8: Leopard 1A5 driver compartment. ACM.
Figure 9: Leopard 2A4 driver compartment. ACM.
Figure 9: Leopard 2A4 driver compartment. ACM.
Figure 10. Leopard 2A7 driver compartment. ACM.
Figure 10. Leopard 2A7 driver compartment. ACM.

Autocomp Management also delivers training systems that can be used to teach the crews how to operate individual systems of the main battle tank. They are referred to as SMEs (Small Military Equipment) and they replicate the actual tank equipment elements in line with the “feel and look like” principle. The Polish manufacturer delivers Leopard commander and gunner training instruments, elements of the fire control systems etc. 

Figure 13. Leopard 2A4 driver’s panel.
Figure 13. Leopard 2A4 driver’s panel.

Another area in which collaboration has been established with the Military Institute of Armament Technology is the domain of small arms indoor training simulators. Systems as such are being offered to many countries, including Ukraine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Finland. These solutions make use of the results of the Śnieżnik programme that has been pursued by the Polish military since many years.
In 2017 Autocomp Management was involved, as the only Polish company, in the most important exhibition of the military simulation systems: I/ITSEC. Thanks to the networking opportunity offered by the event, the offer of the Polish company now also includes optical systems for civil customers in the United States of America. 

Considering the constantly evolving global security situation, growing costs associated with manufacturing and using the military equipment and higher level of expenditure related to military training, a wide use of simulators and training systems in military training is one of the economically justified training methods that could be employed by soldiers and commanders around the world. Numerous countries utilize this method delivering modern battle simulators of top quality to their armed forces.

Tasznik simulator used to train the crews of the Rosomak APC vehicle. Image Credit: ACM. 
Tasznik simulator used to train the crews of the Rosomak APC vehicle. Image Credit: ACM. 

This makes it possible to maintain high level of training with simultaneous significant cost reduction. The growing technological level at which the simulators find themselves, along with the ability to conduct virtual combat training which is often difficult in actual “live” conditions both bear a relevant meaning here. However, the ability to diminish the cost of training is also relevant here, along with the scope within which the combat equipment is actually used. This limits the wear of the actual equipment which translates into higher availability and lower cost required to be covered in order to maintain its readiness.

The article has been written on the basis of materials provided by the Autocomp Management Sp. z o.o. company

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