New Predator training center opens its doors in Italy

CAE on February 25 announced that the Italian Air Force has recently accepted into service a Predator Mission Trainer located at Amendola Air Force Base (AFB) in Italy. The Predator Mission Trainer, specifically representing the Italian Air Force’s Predator A during phase one of this delivery, was jointly developed by CAE and General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GA-ASI).

New Predator training center opens its doors in Italy 001 CAE has delivered a Predator Mission Trainer to the Italian Air Force that is capable of delivering zero flight time training
(Credit: CAE)

Over the next several months during phase two of delivery, the Predator B/MQ-9 variant of the Predator Mission Trainer will undergo acceptance testing with the Italian Air Force and once accepted, will be the highest fidelity simulator ever developed and fielded for the Predator family of remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) systems.

The development of the Predator Mission Trainer for the Italian Air Force represents a new level of fidelity and capability in the use of synthetic training for remotely piloted aircraft pilots and sensor operators,” said Gene Colabatistto, Group President, Defense & Security, CAE. “We have leveraged our decades of experience developing the highest fidelity flight simulators for commercial and military aircraft, and applied the same discipline to the Predator Mission Trainer so that aircrews will be able to conduct all training in the simulator without necessarily requiring further training on the actual aircraft. Once the Predator B variant is accepted, this Predator Mission Trainer will be the first Level D equivalent simulator for an unmanned aircraft.

As prime contractor on the program, CAE collaborated with GA-ASI and the Italian Air Force to perform flight testing on an actual Italian Air Force Predator aircraft to gather the required flight data used in the development of the Predator Mission Trainer. The use of actual flight data specific to an individual aircraft, which is required when developing Level D simulators – the highest qualification for flight simulators, is a first for the Predator RPA and will allow for zero flight time training if desired. For the physical hardware, CAE used an original Block 1 ground control station provided by the Italian Air Force to ensure the highest level of fidelity and realism. The Predator Mission Trainer also features CAE’s high-fidelity sensor simulation, fully interactive tactical environment for enhanced mission training, and use of the Open Geospatial Consortium Common Database (OGC CDB) architecture for interoperable and networked training capabilities.

We need highly-skilled and well-trained Predator crews to fully leverage its capabilities, and our new high-fidelity training system will enable us to use a safe and cost-effective virtual training environment to better prepare our Predator aircrews for operational missions,” said Italian Air Staff Representative. “We look forward to training on the world’s highest fidelity Predator Mission Trainer as we establish an unmanned systems centre of excellence in Italy.

GA-ASI is pleased to collaborate with CAE to develop this advanced simulator for the Predator,” said David R. Alexander, president, Aircraft Systems, GA-ASI. “The Predator Mission Trainer will help the Italian Air Force continue to develop highly-skilled and well-trained aircrews who are prepared and ready to operate the proven Predator RPA system.”