Published 22 February 2022

A world-leading synthetic training system procured by DE&S to enable personnel from across the UK Armed Forces to train together in an immersive environment has entered into service.

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Named Gladiator, the system operates from a new purpose-built facility at RAF Waddington and can link synthetic training devices (simulators) to a central hub, enabling operators across the Land, Maritime and Air environments to train safely and securely together.

The scale, complexity, and security of the training provided by the new system is unparalleled within Europe. Key Air, Land, Maritime, Space and Cyber capabilities will be integrated over coming years, alongside increased connectivity with Allies and Partners, further strengthening Gladiator’s capability to deliver world-class synthetic Multi Domain Integration training.

The system, which is based within the Air Battlespace Training Centre and was officially opened by Chief of the Air Staff Sir Mike Wigston KCB CBE ADC, has been procured by the Flight Simulation and Synthetic Trainers (FsAST) Project Team at DE&S.

FsAST team leader Stuart Lafferty said:

“It was a very proud moment to see this incredible capability enter into service at RAF Waddington. The level of collaboration between the MOD and industry partners has been nothing short of superb.

“It is exciting to think that this innovative system will continue to develop and will progressively link into and safely train countless personnel from across the UK Armed Forces.”

The contract with Boeing Defence UK has created over 50 highly skilled jobs in the UK, with more than half based at the new facility at RAF Waddington. Boeing has also partnered with 14 SMEs and technology providers from across the UK to deliver the new capability, spending over £24 million with the local supply chain. Key UK industry partners involved in Gladiator’s delivery with Boeing Defence UK are Inzpire, Nova Systems and Antycip.

A number of factors impact the UK’s ability to complete all necessary training in the live environment. These include airspace constraints, environmental considerations, cost, and operational security. Gladiator will overcome these limitations by safeguarding highly classified information whilst linking together simulators across the country and beyond.

Gladiator will not replace live flying but will complement it enabling each training activity to be completed in the most effective environment. The system also supports sustainability initiatives by reducing the cost of carrying out real life training and help to reduce carbon emissions, in turn reducing the environmental footprint of collective training overall.

Chief of the Air Staff added:

“Gladiator will enable our forces to trial, test, and practise their tactics in a secure environment, linked across all operational domains. It is an invaluable training tool for the next generation of warfighters across air, space, land, cyber and sea.”

Synthetic training complements live training opportunities and enables delivery of effective combat forces.  Initial integrations are Typhoon, Lightning (F-35), Airseeker (RC-135 Rivet Joint), and the Joint Fires Synthetic Trainer, with other platforms scheduled to join in due course.

Steve Burnell, managing director, Boeing Defence UK, said: “Gladiator represents a step-change in capability for the UK, allowing crews and ground forces from all three services, along with the UK’s allies and partners, to train in a secure and seamless virtual environment.”