L-3 sets up Predator trainers for AF

L-3 Link Simulation and Training has delivered the first batch of Predator pilot training systems to the Air Force.

The contractor shipped five of the seven Predator Mission Aircrew Training System trainers to Creech Air Force Base in Indian Springs, Nev. L-3 Link performed the work under a $7.3 million contract awarded in 2005. The company said it will deliver the two additional units later this month.

Each of the units enables Predator unmanned aircraft system pilots and sensor operators to undergo fully immersive, mission-based simulation training exercises.

In addition to the five training units, L-3 Link also delivered five instructor operator stations and equipment to support two briefing and debriefing rooms.

The units provide high-fidelity modeling of the Predator MQ-1 aircraft platform. The MQ-1 is a medium-altitude, remotely piloted aircraft capable of completing missions of an extended duration. It is used for interdiction and armed reconnaissance against enemy forces. The MQ-1 platform includes aircraft, ground control station and satellite link.

The Air Force's future plans call for enhancing the training units next year to provide simulation for the MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aircraft system. The MQ-9 has a stronger engine, greater weapons payload and higher operational ceiling than the MQ-1.

Training for unmanned aircraft has matured to the point that it provides quality similar to manned aircraft training, said Mike Wallace, L-3 Link's vice president for Air and Navy Programs.

"The high fidelity training provided by PMATS units will enable the U.S. Air Force to rely less on live flight training, enable Predator crews to increasingly practice procedures to counter potentially catastrophic emergencies and conduct networked training exercises aimed at combating the Global War on Terrorism," he said.

L-3 Link is a unit of L-3 Communications Corp. of New York. The parent company has 63,000 employees and had annual sales of $12.5 billion in 2006. It ranks No. 7 on Washington Technology's 2006 Top 100 list of the largest federal IT contractors. The 2007 Top 100 list is due out May 14.

About the Author

William Welsh is a freelance writer covering IT and defense technology.

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