£31M contract awarded UK-based industry to support training in the Armed Forces

Published 10th September 2019.

VR training equipment will enable more immersive capability for UK troops

A £31 million contract to provide a virtual reality suite of training equipment at multiple UK sites to the Armed Forces has been awarded to Oldham-based Ferranti Technologies Ltd, the MOD has announced.

The Joint Fires Synthetic Trainer (JFST) will provide a new immersive capability for the Army, Air Force and Royal Navy to train troops in realistic and complex environments that cannot be replicated easily using the defence estate.

“This enables our soldiers to train as if they were on the ground in a hostile environment, preparing them for today’s battlefield”

Used in addition to live training exercises which troops take part in, both in the UK and overseas, the simulators have also been designed to reflect operations using the latest in-service equipment and weapons.

Defence Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan said: “Virtual reality training allows our armed forces to plug in and immerse themselves in a myriad of battlefield scenarios. This pioneering technology allows our men and women to operate in confined urban areas, expansive deserts or thick jungles whilst situated safely in the UK.”

Developed by Ferranti, a subsidiary of Elbit Systems Ltd, the JFST will simulate operating environments ranging from the desert, to towns and cities, assisting the delivery of safe and more cost-effective training for contemporary operations.

As well as providing training to individuals the system will importantly allow members of the Army, RAF and Navy to train together collectively to best simulate the battlespace and enhance operational effectiveness.

The contract will sustain 30 jobs at the firm. It will deliver 19 systems to be used in training schools and units across the UK including the Royal School of Artillery (RSA) in Wiltshire and Joint Forward Air Controller Training and Standards Unit (JFACTSU) in North Yorkshire.

Director Land Equipment, Major General Colin McClean, said: “JFST replaces functions currently delivered by several stand-alone training systems, offering a coherent package which can be easily modified to reflect future changes to in-service equipment.

“This procurement will support the armed forces to maintain skills and cost effectively provide the latest simulated training environments, enabling our soldiers to train as if they were on the ground in a hostile environment and preparing them for today’s battlefield.”

The first set of suites are expected to be delivered in late 2021.

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