Top Gun: A new training system will prepare pilots for air combat

Executing quick maneuvers during aerial combat to avoid incoming enemy fire, changing course to avoid collisions, and using advanced computer algorithms enabled by artificial intelligence (AI) to process targeting data from the enemy are all critical areas for Air Force trainers as they prepare for great power warfare.

Future dogfights will incorporate greater speed, range, stealth and lethality, as well as new levels of autonomy, making the need to prepare and train against a wide range of contingencies extremely critical. This concept forms the basis of the Air Force’s Red Team training concept, where groups of air platforms engage specific anticipated enemy threats in realistic combat scenarios. Increasingly, advances in computer technology allow simulations to replicate enemy aircraft, weapons, maneuver tactics, and even computing power through advanced computer simulations.

This is a training objective increasingly emphasized by the US Air Force and US Navy in close coordination with live-fire training scenarios through exercises such as Red Flag. As part of this integrated process, training through simulated networking technologies is measurably improved by the Air Force in coordination with industry partners.

Cubic Mission and Performance Solutions, a division of Cubic Corporation, recently won a contract with the US Air Force for its P5 Combat Training System (P5CTS). The P5 System Security Update (SSU), an integrated encryption solution is part of a larger technology upgrade intended to massively improve the training of US Air Force and US Navy pilots for advanced high-risk combat scenarios using advanced computer simulations, wireless networks, and AI-enabled data organization.

Interestingly, the recently published Top Gun Maverick The film is widely praised for its accurate depiction of advanced military technology and Tom Cruise’s F/A-18 fighter is shown with a P5 Pod on it during the film.

The P5 SSU, Cubic explained, will be able to encrypt time, space and position information used to train with hundreds of operational F-35 stealth fighters in coordination with fourth-generation aircraft, enabling larger formations and safe collaborative training within a disaggregated force. The technical infrastructure informing Cubic’s P5 is designed to enable secure data networking, in part through the use of software upgrades and common Internet Protocol standards. “Cubic’s P5 SSU solution includes a low-risk, flight-proven, National Security Agency (NSA)-certified Type 1 multi-level encryptor that allows or restricts access and transfer of information between security domains over the P5CTS without modifying the current training concept of Operations”, a cubic statement said.

With the P5 SSU, fourth-generation aircraft will be able to train safely with more than 900 fifth-generation F-35s already equipped with encrypted P5s to protect techniques, tactics and procedures from enemy exploitation, according to a press release from Cubic. “Cubic’s current P5CTS/TCTS allows aircrew to train anywhere, anytime and capture live training truth data for post-mission analysis and debriefing,” Mike Knowles , president of Cubic Mission and Performance Solutions, Noted.

Kris Osborn is the Defense Editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a highly trained expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army – Acquisition, Logistics and Technology. Osborn also worked as an on-air military anchor and specialist on national television networks. He has appeared as a guest military pundit on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also holds an MA in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.

Image: Flickr/US Air Force.

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