Training on Triton: New virtual trainer helps sailors prepare for future deployments

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Maintainers assigned to CNATT Detachment Point Mugu work on the MQ-4C Triton UAS virtual reality trainer Multi-Purpose Reconfigurable Training System MRTS 3D® to prepare for future deployments with the unmanned aircraft. (Navy photograph by Vance Vasquez)

Navy maintainers are set to begin using a new virtual device to prepare for deployment with the MQ-4C Triton – the soon to be operational long endurance, high altitude unmanned air system.

Under the direction of the Persistent Maritime Unmanned Aircraft System program office’s training team, the Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division in Point Mugu, Calif., worked with local company, ProActive Technologies, Inc., to build a 3D virtual reality trainer, known as the Multi-Purpose Reconfigurable Training System, for Triton’s fleet schoolhouse at the Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training detachment in Point Mugu.

MRTS 3D® is a cost-effective alternative to hardware training systems. It is a personal computer-based system that provides a virtual training environment and gives students the ability to perform hands-on training before interacting with the actual aircraft. NAWCTSD first delivered the government-owned system to the submarine community, but Triton will be the first aviation platform to use this technology.

“This technology is a high velocity teaching method which helps prepare our Sailors to more efficiently troubleshoot aircraft avionics malfunctions,” said Lt. Cmdr. Charlie Steele, Triton training systems lead. “The more training we can do early on, the more effective our maintainers will be at improving aircraft readiness.  Aircraft readiness has a direct link to the aircrew’s ability to provide persistent tactical employment of the MQ-4C Triton and provide combatant commanders with the intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance necessary to sustain the CNO’s mission of maintaining maritime superiority.”

The team specifically designed this device to train maintainers in fault isolation, said Julia Roscher, a test engineer from the training division.  The students will have the opportunity to identify issues, perform troubleshooting and solve the problem.  Separately, they will also get experience with general maintenance procedures.

Roscher visited the schoolhouse with her team in May to test the equipment on site and get feedback from operators, who will eventually deploy with Triton’s squadron, VUP-19.  The team worked closely with both the Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training detachment in Point Mugu and the Triton program throughout the development process to ensure they were meeting their training requirements and initial feedback is good, she said.

AT1 Amra Dempsey, an instructor for the Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training (CNATT) detachment Point Mugu works a touch screen display for the MQ-4C Triton UAS  at Naval Base Ventura County Point Mugu, Calif. Dempsey will train Triton maintainers on training devices prior to deploying with the unmanned aircraft. (Navy photograph by Vance Vasquez)

“We made the decision to incorporate the CNATT instructors much earlier in the development process than is the custom and that has made them very smart on the system,” Steele said. “They were able to provide relevant feedback directly to the engineers on what worked well and what could be done better, which has helped streamline the developmental and test processes.”

The first maintainers just so happen to be the ones who will train VUP-19 students on the system. One of the CNATT Instructors, AT1 Amra Dempsey, has worked on MRTS over the last several months and believes it will greatly benefit the students.

“The software gives an in depth view of the avionics systems of the aircraft which is very helpful,” said Dempsey. “This will really save us a lot of time since we can work through the procedures much faster on the screen than actual real time aircraft maintenance.”

The system is in its final build testing stage and the CNATT det will soon incorporate in the schoolhouse curriculum, along with five additional training devices built for the program.  Maintainers will have a combination of academic learning and hands-on experience with electrical, mechanical, and composite repair as well as landing gear, avionics, fiber optic repair, flight controls, and engine trainers before deploying with VUP-19.

VUP-19 will deploy with the MQ-4C Triton UAS this year.