Russian Army gain access to German know-how on training methods
If anyone in this era of international military force transformation and developments is looking to find a new global dynamic they need look no further than Russia. In its quest to pursue the largest arms build-up this country has experienced since Soviet times and the end of the Cold War it’s signing billion Euros worth of deals on an ambitious weapons procurement programme to revitalise and replenish its armed forces. By contracting Rheinmetall Defence, part of the globe-spanning Rheinmetall Group, the greying bear is using German know-how to build a new army simulation-supported training centre– touted to be the most advanced system of its kind worldwide. By 2014 it must be able to train roughly 30,000 troops a year.
For Rheinmetall Defence, one of Germany’s largest producers of military equipment and also one of the world’s leading suppliers and operators of simulation and training systems for ground, air and naval applications, the order is worth well over 100 million Euros, including further options. Especially when you consider that over the next decade even roughly well over 550 billion Euros more will be spend by the Defence Ministry of the Russian Federation to sharpens the ‘bears’ teeth. While in light of the plans to modernize the equipment of the Russian armed forces, the opportunities for follow-on orders from the Russian Federation are considerable.
The contract is of strategic significance for the Rheinmetall Group. At the same time it represents the first major breakthrough by the German defence industry in the Russian arms market. This impressive shopping spree comes on the heels of a painful military reform that severely downsized Russia’s conscript Army, eliminating 9 out of 10 Soviet-era units and cutting 200,000 officers. Especially in the wake of the five-day war with Georgia in August 2008, which highlighted its military shortcomings, the goal now is to equip Russia’s new lean-and-mean, largely professional armed forces to face 21st-century threats, by turning them into hard-hitting rapid deployment forces capable of intervening in remote theatres of operation. Overhauling the Russian military includes a massive re-equipping of Russia’s strategic nuclear deterrent as well as its conventional forces. Russia’s ambitious arms procurement programme stipulates the upgrading of 11% of military equipment every year. This means that by 2020, 70% of the Russian armed forces’ equipment will be modern. Although most of the equipment will be sourced domestically, Russia is also rapidly acquiring Western know-how, state of the art technology and military equipment.
The new Russian Federation army training centre, that’s to be co-located with its current main artillery training range at Mulino near Nizhniy Novgorod on the Volga, provides an excellent example. The German-based Rheinmetall Defence is not only tasked with developing, building and equipping this major army troop training centre in Russia. It will also supply the live combat simulation system as well as technical implementation of all aspects of the project, including commissioning and quality assurance. All is scheduled for completion and to be operational by 2014. To execute this challenging project, Rheinmetall Defence teamed up into a strategic partnership with JSCo Oboronservis, a Russian state-owned company that will serve as general contractor and subsequently operate the facility on behalf of the Russian armed forces. Several other Russian companies will also be involved in the project, providing both construction services and training systems such as targets.
Rheinmetall can look back at a tradition of military cooperation with Tsarist and Soviet Russia, including on training ranges. In 1904-1905, the company supplied artillery ammunition for the Russian army during the Russo-Japanese war. Following the 1922 Rapallo Treaty and 1924 Berlin Treaty of Friendship between Germany and Soviet Russia, Rheinmetall became one of the German concerns that started producing battle tank prototypes, for testing at Russia’s training range near Kazan on the Volga.
This new Russian Army training facility in Mulino will be modelled after the Bundeswehr’s Gefechtsübungszentrum (GÜZ) Heer, an existing high-tech army training centre located in Altmark, Germany. While innovative Rheinmetall engineers continuously perfect realism, and the sophisticated training technology, the GÜZ combat training centre has proved invaluable to the Bundeswehr since it opened in 2001. The training facility in Mulino will also leverage the experience Rheinmetall has gained developing and fielding a similar collective training facility ordered by an unspecified Middle Eastern customer in 2009.
Measuring approximately well over 500 square kilometres, the Mulino training centre will be able to train a reinforced mechanized infantry or armoured brigade. At the same time the Russian Army will for the first time use there a innovative rotation principle, allowing training to take place simultaneously at a variety of stations, with the training system tracking and recording the activities of each participant via an electronic identification badge, helping to assure successful results throughout a training process lasting several weeks. Before rotation, participants will take part in an introductory qualification phase involving practical and theoretical objectives using computer-based training (CBT) modules. Participants will not be allowed to proceed until they meet this basic qualification. Only then they will be allowed to move to other training stations, including live combat simulation, commander training by state-of-the-art constructive simulation and marksmanship with modern firing ranges as well as other practical training components. Another new feature is the networking of live, virtual and constructive (LVC) simulation elements in an LVC system which promises to set a new standard in military training. Units will conduct live operational training using laser simulators and cutting edge communications systems mounted on their original equipment and tactical vehicles, which will be able to range at will over an area of around 200 square kilometres. Eye-safe laser simulators will be used to simulate weapons ranging from small arms and light anti-tank weapons to tank guns, artillery and vehicle-mounted automatic cannon.
The stations will include numerous live fire ranges and an extensive force-on-force training area instrumented for battalion level training. The training facilities will also include a military operations in urban terrain (MOUT) town and several MOUT villages. During live training operations, every participant in an exercise, from individual soldiers to main battle tanks, is equipped with laser sensors and wireless data transmission devices. These wireless devices feature a GPS satellite receiver and constantly transmit information concerning the position and status of every participant to the exercise control cell. When training for MOUT, special sensors track the position of soldiers even when they are inside buildings. The effects of heavy weapons fire on buildings and the troops inside them can also be simulated.
Moreover, mobile video teams accompany the participating units, transmitting imagery back to headquarters in real time. There, the complete array of data from an exercise flows together, including all voice transmissions. The position and status of all exercise participants are depicted on workstation computer monitors and large screens on a 2D/3D situation map, including video recording in real time. All events taking place during major exercises are electronically recorded and processed for subsequent after-action review (they can be presented to exercise participants in a fixed-position auditorium or in mobile facilities in the major training area).
The new training centre at Mulino will enable Russian brigade-sized units to test combat readiness for combined-arms operations, using Rheinmetall’s state-of-the-art equipment to simulate realistic battlefield conditions and assess troop and staff performance. Following the training programme, which lasts several weeks, every brigade that passes through Mulino will have attained a comparable, certified level of proficiency, in line with the Russian military’s aim of ensuring that every brigade is optimally prepared for modern warfare.
Simulation technology from Rheinmetall Defence thus makes a decisive contribution to well-grounded, deployment-oriented training, providing troops with the best-possible preparation for carrying out their missions, a critical factor in assuring adequate force protection and favourable outcomes. Simulation-supported training is not only a realistic and efficient means of preparing troops for a variety of operational scenarios, but also keeps cost in check by reducing consumption of fuel and materiel as well as protecting heavy equipment from wear and tear. The Russian military expects the new training centre to pay for itself within the space of a few years.
More than just geographically historic, the supporting technologies behind the contract provides a representative example of one of the growing trends and developments emerging to support land forces around the globe. That particular trend involves the expansion of new simulation and other related technologies to support military training. The expanded application of simulation reflects not only the development and availability of new computer technologies but also the universal recognition of the cost effectiveness of simulation versus other types of training.