The game is to train

Video game-like simulations train Patriot crews and maintainers across the globe

It's no game. It just looks like one.

The Reconfigurable Table Top Trainer, referred to as RT-3, provides simulated, but realistic, training for crews of the Patriot air and missile defense system.

RT-3 training supports tactical operational training and leverages video game-like methods as virtual avatars, both male and female, who use hand signals and voice commands to communicate to team members for crew drill and maintenance training.

This interactive way of training could eventually be used in all of the Patriot units around the world.

The Romanian Air Force will soon have its first Patriot system, with additional systems expected; the U.S. and 16 allies currently use Patriot. Romanian Air Force graduates from the United States Army Air Artillery School, Fires Center of Excellence, Fort Sill, Oklahoma, trained in a series of operating and maintenance courses for the Patriot system.

“The hardest part of training on the Patriot system is training to be on the air battle crew,” said Patrick Griffin, Romania Patriot Program Manager. “RT-3's allow Patriot operators to conduct air battle any time and anywhere, utilizing re-hosted tactical software and familiar gaming-style training for maintenance and crew drills that greatly shorten the learning curve."

Train to gain

Video game-like Patriot training technology is available when tactical equipment may not be. It allows for teams to collaborate in a safe, virtual environment, where mistakes can be made without injury or damage. It's an effective way to give operators and maintainers the skills they need when using Patriot in the field.

U.S. soldiers train on RT-3's to become Patriot operators; operational forces use the systems to keep skills sharp. Every major U.S. installation that has Patriot forces has RT-3’s.

The training is comfortable to soldiers who have grown up in the age of video games. The systems are interactive, with several avatars appearing on screen and using hand gestures to communicate. The simulator uses cameras, X-Box controllers, a keyboard, a mouse and a screen with a pass or fail indicator. The ease of use allows for quick ramp-up and an efficient means for maintaining proficiency for both maintenance and crew drill scenarios.

Training on the RT-3’s also drives down costs. Instead of using 20 to 30 people in traditional training, along with equipment, fuel and maintenance support, the RT-3 can be set up quickly and run with only two people.

“If they didn’t have these RT-3’s, then the operators would have to use their tactical system to train, which means the cost savings and value of RT-3’s is enormous,” Griffin said.

Used worldwide

“With RT-3, new Patriot operators can learn the system before the equipment even arrives,” according to Bob Kelley, director of European Requirements & Capabilities at Raytheon Missiles & Defense, one of four businesses that form Raytheon Technologies. “Operators can use it to script better training scenarios or even use it in a major exercise, where there is some kind of simulation used across the exercise for training.”

The table-top technology is available to all Patriot nations, including Romania, where it helps to get Patriot operators ready before full systems arrive in-country. In fact, the RT-3’s were the first hardware delivery to Romania They have been set up and initial training for students is complete, ahead of systems planned to arrive later in 2020.

“That way, once we deploy their first system later this year, they will have people standing tall and ready to go and hit the ground running on Day One,” Kelley said.