US 'friendly fire' deaths could be prevented by £8m flight simulator plan

Last updated at 17:13 18 May 2007

British and American air forces could soon train together in virtual reality sessions which could see the end of 'friendly fire' accidents.

New flight simulator technology could mean forces train together simultaneously while on opposite sides of the Atlantic.

A proposed network would link military bases in the United States and UK and allow the coalition members to take part in mock missions alongside one another.

The project comes after a series of so-called "friendly fire" accidents involving allied forces in the Middle East.


A total of eight UK service personnel have been killed in "blue-on-blue" incidents since the start of the war in Iraq, the MoD said earlier this month.

Simulators for fighter cockpits, helicopters, air controllers and ground vehicles plus computer-generated troops could be joined via the complex system to create combat scenarios involving the allies.

Hi-tech companies have been working to devise the best "distributed simulation" in a £7.8 million project.

The prototype will be showcased at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire.

A hangar at the airfield has been converted to include Tornado GR4 and Typhoon cockpits plus a seven-seat airborne warning and control system (AWCAS) aircraft.

It can be connected to similar simulators at the US Air Force Research Laboratory at Mesa, Arizona, and other sites, which typically include F-16 and A10s.

QinetiQ and Boeing are among businesses behind the project, which is still in its experimental phase and being trialled by frontline aircrews.

The Ministry of Defence is yet to give the go-ahead for the UK system to be integrated into the United States' Distributed Mission Operations network.

A QinetiQ spokesman said: "This (project) will enable them to make informed decisions about what they want to do."

The emphasis of the distributed simulation is said to be on tactical operations not basic flying skills.

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