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Operational readiness training – the Cobham capability

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Operational readiness training – the Cobham capability

Paul Armstrong, Senior Vice President and General Manager at Cobham Aviation Services, outlines the company's air operational training capabilities and its electronic warfare systems expertise.

With over 30 years’ experience of training the Royal Air Force (RAF) and Royal Navy (RN) within a contested, degraded and operationally-limited environment, Cobham has a proven capability from which to build a new training construct for advanced capability programmes such as the United Kingdom’s (UK’s) Air Support to Defence Operational Training (ASDOT) programme. 

Paul Armstrong, Senior Vice President and General Manager at Cobham Aviation Services, outlines Cobham’s activities, “The company currently operates a fleet of modified Falcon aircraft, which provides unique and highly specialised support to UK operational readiness training through the accurate synthetic replication of potential peer threats in the live environment.” He goes on, “We combine our technical expertise in the production of world-class electronic warfare (EW) systems with a close working relationship with the RAF’s Air Warfare Centre. This helps us deliver innovative and advanced EW techniques from a suite of pods. Not only do our crews provide the RAF and RN tailored, realistic and cost-effective threat training, but, by working closely alongside them, we are able understand their training needs and methods intimately.”

The increasing prevalence and sophistication of EW threats makes this type of training essential in today’s battlespace.  But, training in this environment introduces higher levels of risk and any future training partner must be able to operate in that sort of regime without restriction or limitation. Armstrong explains, “Our deep experience and proven record alongside the careful selection and training of our operators is vital in delivering an unparalleled, credible, capable and safe operating environment.” 

Cobham has recently teamed up with Draken International - the only current commercial air adversary provider to the United States Air Force (USAF).  Significantly, the UK and US already have a special training relationship, one that will deepen with the advent of the F-35B. Moreover, UK elements regularly deploy to US restricted training events, where Draken provides an aggressor service to the USAF at Nellis AFB.  This is noteworthy, as classified operational training can only be conducted in secure spaces, and therefore access is limited. Armstrong highlights this by pointing out that only an ASDOT provider who guarantees this access can maximise its training value. In his words, “Draken International is therefore a natural ASDOT partner for Cobham.  They not only complement our EW and aggressor service by delivering the next-generation agile platform element; but they have unique experience, working with the USAF, especially their F-22 and F-35 5th-generation aircraft.” 

According to Armstrong, Cobham can help develop the next-generation of British air power by providing an ASDOT solution that continues to evolve its training methods in order to deliver realistic, cost-effective threat training for operational readiness. This he says will allow the UK to retain freedom of action and sovereign tactical capability.  However, it requires maintaining a realistic replication of threats in the live, synthetic and constructive environments of every platform and system. It is timely then, that Cobham will soon announce the addition of technology partners, which Armstrong says, “will create a dynamic and exciting LVC (Live Virtual Constructive) environment which will both meet the changing dynamics of military training and prepare the RAF and RN for future combat.”

This article, written by Simon Michell, first appeared in the 2018 issue of RAF Air Power, “Building the Next Generation Air Force”

 

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