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Simulated Warfare Saves Money and Lives

The U.S. military has a lot to do and spends a lot of money doing it. For the major defense contractors, simulation training and support is not just big business – it is a huge business.

Lockheed Martin, one of the world's biggest defense contractors, has nearly 3,000 employees working in its simulation, training and support division; more than half of those under one roof at their Orlando, Florida facility.

Using computer simulators to train soldiers is cost effective and safe, and here Lockheed is developing simulations of all sorts; providing training in combat convoy procedures, using various weapon systems, flying and navigating the newest jet fighters, even using simulation trainers, to teach simulation training.

Looking much like high tech video games, the advanced simulators provide basic to advanced training for operating countless vehicles, individual and multiple weapon systems, in all different environments and conditions. They are used individually, preparing soldiers for various operations, and are also networked, enabling team leaders to practice war games, using different configurations of vehicles and weapon systems.

Ground simulators train soldiers to maneuver as units through virtual environments. Live-fire targetry and tactical engagement systems prepare soldiers for operating under stress by exposing them to simulated combat situations, and likewise, prepare military leaders to address future conflicts.

The flight simulators take pilots from initial qualification training all the way through real-time, virtual combat mission rehearsals. Military officials say simulation training is essential and has been vitally important for US military operations in Iraq.

There are also non-military uses for the simulators. Lockheed says some of the technology developed is used by law enforcement agencies around the world. Vehicle simulators for water, land and air, are important, cost effective training tools for student drivers of trucks, buses, industrial and emergency vehicles of all sorts and 'virtually' accident free.