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The competition between two simulation systems providers, Israel Aerospace Industries and the US based Cubic Defense Applications (the defense segment of Cubic Corporation (AMEX: CUB) is heating again over the vast Asian airspace, as both companies are tapping the growing demand for air combat training, resulting from the modernization and expansion of air forces throughout the region. Until recently, only Israeli systems were available for Asian Air Forces, but recently, with the introduction of a rangeless system by Cubic, Asian air forces have several options to chose from. Cubic's first success in the region was reported earlier in 2007, as it announced the first order for an instrumented air combat training system for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) worth nearly $10 million. 10 months later, Cubic scored another sale, this time in Thailand. (More...)

Airspace restrictions were the main reason for Singapore follow the rangeless ACMI route in the 1990s when Singapore acquired some 95 pods. Another user of the system was India, deploying a number of ACMI systems with its Tactics and Combat Development and Training Establishment (TACDE). Thailand was also one of the early users of Israeli ACMI systems in Asia. Cubic made the first installation of its rangeless ACMI system in Asia in 2004, equipping the US Air Force base in Kadena, Japan. More system were fielded later with U.S. Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) at Misawa in Japan, and in Osan and Kunsan bases in South Korea. The Royal Australian Air Force operates the system at Williamtown, New South Wales, and another nation in the region has also recently acquired a Cubic system. Another system was recently delivered by Cubic to the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force, and will soon be operational at Komatsu Air Base in central Japan. The new system also includes Cubic’s Individual Combat Aircrew Display System, (ICADS), used in nine nations throughout the world for ACMI debriefs.

Earlier this month Cubic announced the award of a contract by the Royal Thai Air Force, for the supply of ACMI system worth $10 million. The program will equip two Thai air bases in Korat and Takhli will the "rangeless" systems by March 2009; Both bases are located in Central Thailand. The Thai Air Force already employs an earlier version of the Israeli EHUD systems. "This sale makes it possible for various Pacific Rim nations to conduct joint instrumented training using state-of-the-art technology, since all these systems are interoperable," remarked Philip J. Fisch, senior director of Business Development for Air Ranges for Cubic Defense Applications. Cubic's P5 rangeless ACMI system consists of GPS-based instrumentation pods and ground systems. The pods monitor all maneuvers in real time and provide live feedback to pilots during training. The real-time monitor capabilities allow the training to be viewed at the bases. In addition, all the training exercise data is recorded for post-mission debrief and analysis.

Enhancing Air Combat Training Experience

Cubic first developed the Air Combat Maneuvering Instrumentation system (ACMI) in 1971 following the US Navy requirement for improved pilot training, a lesson learned during earlier in the dogfights over North Vietnam. The initial Cubic system used eight ground sites to track the airspeed and manoeuvres of as many as eight aircraft, each outfitted with externally mounted pods. The system also tracked simulated missile firings, recording hits and misses, which allowed the combat instructors to review the sorties in the post flight debriefs.

The Rangeless ACMI was developed in Israel, pioneered by BVR about 15 years later, evolving after two Israeli F-15s collided over the IAF air combat training range. Following this tragedy the Israel Air Force considered ways to improve flight safety over the crowded air combat training range, without degrading the pilot's maneuvering. At that time, the introduction of GPS navigation capability made the ground based range redundant. BVR Technologies was first to develop rangeless system called EHUD, after one implemented it in the IAF service. With onboard navigation and direct link to the aircraft avionics and weapons, EHUD establishes real-time training capabilities with operational combat aircraft and dedicated trainers. The system manages, tracks and recreates complex air combat, air-to-ground weapon and ground-to-air engagements for in-flight combat simulation and post mission debriefing. It can also introduce virtual targets and weapons to enhance training experience. The system provides the capability to monitor and control the exercise in real-time as well as post mission debrief. The system also integrates electronic threat and countermeasure simulation, and an innovative mid-air and ground collision avoidance, improving the flight safety during training missions.

The Israeli EHUD system became very popular in Europe, where it provides the standard air combat training for the NATO Flight School as well as France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Portugal, The Netherlands, England and NATO Flight School. Indications on IAI's success in Asia surfaced recently, as IAI reported two recent orders from customers in Asia.

For the future, Cubic positioned itself a step ahead of the competition winning the embedded training system for the Lockheed Martin's F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). This system will nbe interoperable with Cubic's current pod-based P5 system and allow JSF pilots to simulate training exercises even after the aircraft has been deployed to other air bases. The avionic module will weigh about 30 lbs and be removed from the aircraft if needed. The JSF is due to replace a multitude of aircraft used by the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Turkey, Singapore and Israel.

Asian ACMI Wins for IAI, BVR

Israel Aerospace Industries' MLM Division announced the reception of two orders for its EHUD Air Combat Maneuvering Instrumentation (ACMI) Systems. Both sales were to Asian countries and are value at about US$41 Million. One of the customers will use EHUD systems to train pilots and local air defense systems. For this program, MLM offered its latest Air Defense Training System (ADTS) version of EHUD. These new pods introduce advanced applications, allowing users to conduct simultaneous training of pilots performing Suppression of Enemy Air Defense (SEAD) missions and personnel engaged in Anti-Aircraft interception with anti-aircraft guns and missile sites. IAI is the prime contractor for this $25 million program, with BVR Technologies acting as the main subcontractor. BVR is the prime contractor for the second sale worth $19.5 million. also to an undisclosed customer. This sale is an enhancement of existing fleet of EHUD systems previously supplied by BVR, augmenting the customer's current capabilities with the new version. IAI/MLM will act as subcontractor to BVR on this program.

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