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Virtual Operator Trainers Ready Sailors for the High-End Fight

12 January 2022

From Kimberly M. Lansdale, Center for Surface Combat Systems Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO - The Program Executive Office Integrated Warfare Systems 5.0 (PEO IWS 5.0) and Center for Surface Combat Systems (CSCS) are bringing four new Virtual Operator Trainers (VOTs) online at CSCS’ Fleet Anti-Submarine Warfare (FASW) Training Center, onboard Naval Base Point Loma, San Diego and one VOT at CSCS Det Pearl Harbor, onboard Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. Both sites will reach initial operational capability by the end of this month.

“This innovative technical solution increases the amount of ‘reps and sets’ Sailors perform on tactical AN/SQQ-89A(V)15 software, significantly improving the quality of sonar training and maximizing knowledge retention,” explains PEO IWS 5.0 Major Program Manager Capt. Jill Cesari. “It is designed to provide surface sonar techs [STGs] the opportunity to train in realistic underwater environments against high-fidelity peer and near-peer threats.”

The AN/SQQ-89A(V)15 VOTs were funded by Director, Surface Warfare’s (OPNAV N96) program of record, Surface Training Advanced Virtual Environment-Combat Systems (STAVE-CS), which was introduced in 2015 as a means to provide better quality training for Navy Officers and Sailors.

“This VOT is just one of many tools being developed, funded and delivered under the STAVE umbrella,” remarked Capt. Dave Stoner, commanding officer, CSCS. “By replacing actual shipboard equipment with a virtual based system using real tactical code, we are providing highly effective tactical employment training. Moreover, we are doing so at a cost that enables us to put this trainer in our schoolhouses and at all of our fleet concentration areas. Ship commanding officers will also be able to use the VOT family of trainers to build proficiency in real world scenarios.”

By Fiscal Year 23, AN/SQQ-89A(V)15 VOTs will be installed in seven fleet concentration areas in support of a new training model for STGs, providing a building block learning approach throughout a Sailor’s career. This aligns to the Navy’s Ready, Relevant Learning (RRL) pillar under Sailor 2025, a program created to improve and modernize personnel management and training systems. Future VOTs are planned for the Aegis Weapon System and Ship Self Defense System utilizing a similar hardware architecture.

The VOT hosts fielded AN/SQQ-89A(V)15 software baselines aboard Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers and Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruisers. It features 12 dual-eye student workstations that model the design of sonar consoles, as well as a dual display station mock-up that supports training for the sonar element in the combat information center. The VOT uses realistic, simulated acoustic targets in high-fidelity ocean environments and element level acoustic sensor data recorded from real world and/or exercise events.

Capt. Brandon Bryan, commanding officer, FASW, stresses the importance of the relationship between CSCS and PEO IWS 5.0 in making these labs a reality.

“PEO IWS 5.0 started this journey with us in 2017 and our relationship has only strengthened over the years as we worked together to bring the VOTs online,” he explained. “By working as a team, we have brought a training system that serves to enhance the skills and knowledge that help shape our Sailors into successful warfighters. Every shipboard Sailor needs to be confident and competent to fight and win against any adversary, and this training system provides that confidence.”

The newly installed VOTs expand upon the previously virtual classroom design, formerly known as Applied Classrooms, six of which were installed by PEO IWS 5.0 in 2017. It increases the capacity to host more sonar operator courses and opens up the aperture to support surface ship acoustic analysis training at STG “A” School. The VOTs double the capacity of previous training systems at a fraction of the cost and footprint.

“The VOTs will improve combat readiness by providing better trained, better-qualified Sailors to the high-end fight,” Stoner said. “CSCS is now more capable of providing modernized training by combining the labs’ full tactical capabilities with virtual environments. Our instructors can recreate a complex and dynamic simulated environment to build tactical proficiency for the newest sonar operator to major commander. The combined effect is a lethal surface force manned by warfighters ready to fight and win.”

The Program Executive Office Integrated Warfare Systems (PEO IWS) 5.0 develops, delivers and sustains ASW capabilities to dominate the undersea domain through exploitation of technology and streamlined acquisition. PEO IWS 5.0 is responsible for the development, delivery, and sustainment of Undersea Warfare capabilities to dominate the undersea domain, while exploiting the latest in technology. Their portfolio not only touches the surface ship community, but extends to submarines, big deck platforms and Command and Control (C2). Their business processes reflect the latest efforts in streamlined acquisition, which has allowed accelerated delivery of warfighting capability to the Fleet.

CSCS is a global organization that consists of 14 learning sites / detachments located throughout the continental United States, Hawaii, Japan, and Spain. Approximately 1,500 instructors train 36,000 Sailors a year. CSCS is the only training command that trains every individual surface navy warfighter in the maintenance, operations, and tactical employment of surface combat systems. CSCS’ mission is to train the fleet so that our Navy can fight and win!

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