Wings Magazine

RCAF to transform its training system with SIM technology

March 16, 2015, Ottawa - The Royal Canadian Air Force is at a crossroads. The current training system, which relies heavily on the use of real aircraft, is becoming more and more unaffordable. At the same time, the ability to train by using advanced simulation continues to improve.

March 16, 2015  By RCAF

Therefore, the RCAF will transform its training system from one that relies on aircraft to one that exploits new technologies to train aviators in a simulation-focused system that creates, in effect, a “virtual battlespace”.

 “We are looking to the future,” says Lieutenant-General Yvan Blondin, commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force. “Rapid advancements in computer technology have given us the ability to create virtual worlds that realistically simulate flying missions.”

“Simulators allow us to control different variables – such as weather, terrain and threats – and conduct training that is more varied and rigorous than flying actual aircraft.”

“As simulation technology continues to mature and grow, so will its use within the RCAF.”


To guide the use of new and developing simulation technologies over the coming years, the Air Force has published the RCAF Simulation Strategy 2025 (RSS). The RSS will enable the RCAF to continue its bold tradition of training excellence by taking advantage of advances in simulation technology to transform and improve the way it achieves and maintains readiness.

While the initial focus is on aircrew training, it will be expanded in the near future to include all RCAF training.

By 2025, the RCAF will have a simulation-focused training system which skilfully leverages live, virtual, and constructive (LVC) domains within a networked common synthetic environment. This system will optimize the means by which RCAF aviators achieve and maintain readiness, fully exploiting advances in both technology and training methodologies, to deliver world-class capabilities for the full spectrum of operations.

Achieving this vision will allow the RCAF to provide more “effective, efficient and smarter” training. 

As each Air Force community – ranging from maritime helicopter to heavy-lift transport to fighter jet – increases its use of simulation for training, the flying hours that were devoted to live training can be reduced.

As a result, aircraft will be more available for operations – thus providing Canada with additional operational readiness, flexibility and agility. In addition, training that combines operational aircraft fleets with simulators and the synthetic environment will be more effective, safer and less expensive; increased use of simulation will also be better for the environment by reducing the RCAF’s carbon footprint today and into the future.

This will make the RCAF even more responsive and relevant to Canada’s defence needs.

“The RCAF is the youngest of Canada’s military services,” says Lieutenant-General Blondin “We’ve long been associated with daring, adventure and pushing the boundaries of the possible to better serve Canadians and their interests.” 

“With the introduction of this new strategy, the RCAF continues this proud tradition of ‘pushing the envelope’ to consistently deliver robust air power.”


The RSS contains a comprehensive overview of how the RCAF will put simulation to work to achieve and maintain readiness. The strategy is based on three fundamental and linked tenets:

  • An achievable and quantifiable end state for RCAF simulation in 2025.
  • A detailed analysis of the current state of simulation within the RCAF today, in relation to the end state.
  • A deliberate and phased plan to achieve the end state in 2025.

While the initial focus is oriented towards aircrew training, these foundational principles will apply to all occupations and training activities across the RCAF.

The strategy is neither exhaustive nor the final word on simulation. It lays out a sound framework by which the RCAF will achieve its goals; achieving these goals will require both a collaborative and iterative approach.

A strategic roadmap

The strategy represents a roadmap to guide the RCAF to achieving its simulation “end state”. It consists of five broad lines of development as follows: 

  • Simulation-focused training. The RCAF will employ a “systems approach” to training to develop a well-defined understanding of the training requirements for both individual and collective simulation-focused training that are needed to better develop and maintain the skills necessary for a world-class Air Force.
  • Virtual battlespace. The RCAF will develop a “system of systems” in which individual training devices will integrate into the whole, and provide a realistic simulation of the operational environment in which training can occur. The training devices will be tailored to specific fidelity requirements and accredited for use. Collectively, the networked and integrated training devices will support the full breadth of operational training within the RCAF. 
  • Command and control, governance, and policy. The RCAF will develop a policy and governance framework that will maximize the efficient and effective development and use of simulation to support the full spectrum of RCAF activities and operations.
  • Infrastructure. The RCAF will create an enterprise support system that is capable of hosting all the components of the virtual battlespace and is appropriate for the technical and operational requirements of those components.
  • Service delivery. The RCAF will work with the procurement system to deliver and support the components of the virtual battlespace and to meet the users’ needs while keeping pace with future capability development.

Coordination of existing resources

The RCAF’s simulation training capability in 2015 already delivers highly effective training that meets or exceeds most of the training that can be delivered using real aircraft. As much of what is needed to achieve the end state already exists, it now needs to be synchronized, aligned and supported by a robust governance and policy framework. The RCAF’s directorate of air simulation and training, located at National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa, will be responsible for leading this effort.

Work in several areas has already begun to lay the framework upon which subsequent activities will build. But most importantly, the RCAF has the desire to succeed. The RCAF is well on the path to maintaining continued excellence in training and, therefore, continued excellence in operations.


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