Cover: Investment Strategies for Improving Fifth-Generation Fighter Training

Investment Strategies for Improving Fifth-Generation Fighter Training

Published Feb 10, 2011

by John A. Ausink, William W. Taylor, James H. Bigelow, Kevin Brancato

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It is increasingly difficult to train combat aircrews the way they will fight. U.S. Air Force experts believe that the increased use of simulators; distributed mission operations; and live, virtual, and constructive (LVC) training are required to improve training. The authors determine that realistic training requirements for 5th-generation fighter aircraft are not well documented in any standard Air Force reference. However, using a variety of data sources to assess the quality of current training, they conclude that there is strong evidence for a training gap. The authors show that high costs of providing adversary aircraft in live training mean that, in the long run, developing the LVC ability to inject threats into live aircraft may be the only fiscally responsible approach to improving training. The Air Force must systematically document currently unattainable training needs. LVC technology holds the potential to make the best and most affordable use of live training. However, the technical risk in much LVC technology is currently too high to shift primary focus to this approach. Instead, the Air Force should (1) be more consistent and thorough in funding for networked simulators and (2) make smaller, targeted investments in the development of LVC technology.

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The research described in this report was sponsored by the United States Air Force and conducted by RAND Project AIR FORCE.

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