Advances in simulation technologies and soaring operating and maintenance costs of live training have resulted in continued interest in distributed mission operations (DMO) in North America. DMO market growth has been fuelled by diminishing budgets and increased investment in simulation and synthetic training over live training.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, North American Distributed Mission Operations Market, reveals that the market accrued revenues of $208.1 million in 2005 and estimates this to reach $293.4 million in 2012.
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With increasing operating and maintenance costs, DMO offers an alternative inexpensive method of simulation and training. Using deployable simulators, along with live, virtual and constructive environments to train in, DMO connects pilots and instructors in various locations around the world, overcoming training and resource constraints prevalent in live training. Virtual injects and scenarios that emulate real combat are readily available in addition to live feeds from ground sensors to airborne warning and control system (AWACS) for the warfighters to train, which enhance their preparedness.
The integration of air-to-ground mission platforms such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) is crucial to the North American DMO. Although fourth-generation tactical aircraft such as the F-15, F-16 and F/A-18 are now DMO compliant, other platforms including the fifth-generation F-22 Raptor are yet to be integrated into American and Canadian DMO systems.
“Air-to-ground mission platforms, especially UAVs such as the MQ-1B Predator and RQ-4 Global Hawk can create substantial growth opportunities for market participants,” cites Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Garrick Ngai. “Integrating UAVs and non-DMO compliant platforms can complete the paradigm shift from air-to-air to air-to-ground warfare fought by American and Canadian warfighters in the global war on terror.”
The advent of fifth-generation aircraft, such as the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) into the U.S. inventory has called for a new generation of simulators, devices and trainers that account for new capabilities in embedded systems, intelligence surveillance reconnaissance (ISR) and suppression of enemy air defenses/destruction of enemy air defenses (SEAD/DEAD).
Canada and the United States are undergoing essential mid-life upgrades (MLUs) and operation capability upgrades (OCUs) including airframe refurbishment and new avionics/embedded systems. As these new and upgraded platforms require an improved manner of training, DMO leverages such technological enablers to help train warfighters.
However, the war presents an array of challenges for warfighters, especially in air-to-ground warfare and tactics. Air-to-air DMO solutions are relatively mature, while air-to-ground DMO solutions continue to present critical challenges. Simulation of the latter requires more complex graphical fidelity and projection, which is very expensive.
“Creating partnerships that provide targeted, cost-effective concurrent solutions for the armed services is crucial to acquire new DMO contracts as well as increase renewals,” explains Ngai. “DMO’s complexity requires lead systems integrators to leverage internal and external strengths in areas such as advanced simulation technologies, image generation, network connectivity, security, and solid operations and management expertise.”
Although competing pressures due to the global war on terror have made it difficult for American and Canadian militaries to fund further DMO projects in the short term, both countries are committed to long-term DMO as part of the greater military training transformation process.
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