ORLANDO, Fla. – Orlando's Central Florida research center is home to the Navy's main center for simulation and training systems technologies and is an integral part of the U.S. armed forces.
At the Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division facility 1,300 engineers, scientists and support personnel help develop training programs for the Army, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard, as well as many federal, state and local agencies.
One of those systems is a 3D high simulator that sailor students can train on. With the use of both hands on a touch screen and by sliding one, two or three fingers, students learn how to prepare for a mission, including preparing to launch a torpedo.
"They learn everything from tube loading to unloading, indexing, level changing, launching, both in horizontal and vertical launch. This is so real that they're using it in the fleet for different certifications in mission setups." Todd Estes, command master chief and assistant program manager, said.
The 3D program, called the Multipurpose Reconfigurable Training System, simulates different scenes, one of which virtually places junior sailors inside a Virginia class submarine.
"These applications, just like on your home computer, you can go from Outlook to Excel to a game and back to PowerPoint. We can jump from one application to another," said David Thomas, the project manager for the 3D simulator.
The training also includes using virtual reality goggles that make a person feel as if they are inside a torpedo room.
"A Virginia class simulator can load up to 12 vertical weapons and four horizontal weapons at the same time. So, 16 weapons, combination of Tomahawk missiles and torpedoes -- at a time, if necessary, for a mission," Thomas said.
"Orlando is the global home of military simulation and training. Currently, our folks provide simulators for and other training devices across a host of Navy war-fighting areas." commanding officer Cpt. Erik Etz said. The F-18 pilot spoke about the importance this training facility had after Sept. 11, 2001.
Etz flew in patrol missions out on the West Coast of the United States.
"I was prepared to do those missions because of training that I received from folks that provide devices right here in central Florida. For the Navy, we have been essential in supporting combat operations since (Sept.) 11, 2001. We provide readiness for the fleet. We ensure that our people are trained and able to meet the requirements of the missions and that they're ready to fight," Etz said.
The Naval Air Warfare Center Training Division supports aircraft, ships and submarines. The 3D simulator can train up to 15 students separately or the students can train as a team and prepare for a big mission.