The Brazilian Army (EB) now has a new Firearms Support Simulation System (SIMAF, for its Portuguese acronym), a modern training tool that creates an accurate, virtual reproduction of a battlefront. One of the simulator's units became operational in February at the Military Academy in Agulhas Negras (AMAN) in the city of Resende, Rio de Janeiro state, with another expected to go live in April at the EB Training Camp in Santa Maria, Rio Grande do Sul.
“It can project any scenario or combat conditions: just enter the site card (a sort of 2D map) and define the real variables for the region on the system where we want to simulate the training, such as day or night, temperature, wind speed, relative air humidity, etc.,” SIMAF chief instructor Major Alexsander Aquiles da Conceição explained. “This way, we train under the exact conditions we need for when we go to the battleground, and we fire real shots with 100 percent efficiency.”
Any real or possible scenario can be simulated using SIMAF, from areas in the Amazon to urban zones. In the event of a real mission in such areas, for example, service members are already familiar with the site, which was depicted in the simulation with a high degree of accuracy. “The simulator arose from our doctrine and has potential for development, depending on current and future needs,” Maj. Aquiles stated.
New complex houses simulator
At the AMAN – a complex of more than 700,000 square meters – the EB built a new structure to house the equipment, according to SIMAF Technical Section Chief Major Eduardo Massayoshi Abe.
“The site where we installed SIMAF has an auditorium, a conference room, instructor’s post, artillery positioning center, firearms support coordination services, and a firing line,” he said. “The SIMAF has three simulation rooms and each one has an observation post for different scenes. One imitates the brush; another, conventional terrain; and the third, an urban combat area. The audio in the room also reproduces ambient sounds chosen for the training.”
The simulator has eight howitzers integrated into the system, with rounds and sensors. Within the simulation, service members maneuver the howitzers and effectively fire, but the ammunition is not real. The two SIMAFs can interact, allowing for an integrated and simultaneous exercise between students at both locations. The exercises can simulate combat Troops on opposing sides.
The SIMAF is divided into eight field artillery subsystems: shooting range, observation, searching for targets, topography, meteorology, communications, logistics, and directions and coordination. Depending on the training, it can use a single module or a set, making up a complete scenario. The two SIMAFs will ultimately train cadets in Artillery, Infantry, and Cavalry courses, but also help prepare Artillery Groups and any other Military organization in Brazil.
In addition to facilitating training under different scenarios – artillery practice is restricted to certain training areas – the SIMAF will optimize the use of live ammunition.
“Artillery ammunition, whether imported or manufactured here, is very expensive,” Maj. Aquiles explained. “SIMAF will prevent waste by conducting training on the simulator. We will be in a position to correct errors, trajectories, and elements to reduce the amount of ammunition used on the ground in activities using live rounds. In one exercise, I might fire 40 rounds at a target; with the simulator, I can fire 10 and have the same effect.”
Captain Iramar Lubiana, Jr., the AMAN's instruction team chief, said the SIMAF is also advantageous because it allows Cadets to train with all of the weapons and ammunition they are studying in the Artillery course. “There are no restrictions on ammunition during a simulation. It is a way of putting into practice what the cadets are learning in their artillery course. Without the simulator, we are limited to the areas where we can shoot and the amount and types of grenades available for us to use in the field,” Capt. Iramar said. “The simulator overcomes those limitations. Here, I can shoot on any part of the AMAN training grounds, and even beyond them, without a safety issue, and still use every artillery technique.”
The SIMAF can also simulate an urban area, such as a slum in Rio de Janeiro. The virtual training negates any chance of hurting civilians or having collateral damage during an exercise, according to Maj. Aquiles.
“Another system advantage is attracting more attention from Cadets, like young men and women who can adapt easily to new technologies. Their generation knows games and the Internet well. Youth see technology as an inherent part of their day-to-day lives.”
The simulator also reduces damage to the environment, since it avoids using gunpowder or the deployment of Troops and heavy vehicles that are used in real-life training. At the end of the training, the software evaluates the exercise, providing information on errors, hits, and what factors would need improvement in the event of a real situation.
“I can give that to the instruction team so they can coordinate and guide Cadets in their improvement,” Capt. Iramar said. “If someone makes a mistake, we also don’t have to correct them immediately. I can let the Cadet make a mistake, so he or she can see its effect on the simulator without endangering anyone’s safety. This is one more way in which we can add to their knowledge.”