US Navy Strike Group Defender

The US Navy has unveiled a new virtual trainer that will simulate air strikes and train seamen in how to protect vessels against electronic warfare threats.

Called Strike Group Defender, the multiplayer video game exposes players to a range of anti-ship missile attacks, where sailors need to select whether to react with decoy flares, infrared-tracking systems or firepower.

Claimed to be the navy’s first multiplayer, game-based training programme to test and evaluate personnel in surface electronic warfare, the new trainer is built as part of the US Office of Naval Research (ONR) Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) Future Naval Capabilities (FNC) portfolio, managed by PMR-51.

ONR programme manager Scott Orosz said: "Strike Group Defender is an affordable, realistic way for personnel to understand and emulate the capabilities being developed in the IAMD FNC and learn how those improvements enhance the means to respond to threats navy ships face around the world.

"This technology will allow sailors and marines to plan, experiment and train whenever they want."

"But beyond that application, this technology will allow sailors and marines to plan, experiment and train whenever they want, whether they are at sea or in a classroom."

The trainer was built in collaboration with MIT Lincoln Laboratory and games professionals Metateq and PipeWorks Studios, with assistance from the Naval Postgraduate School and ONR’s own TechSolutions Programme.

Naval Postgraduate School research associate Perry McDowell said: "While the current content focuses on anti-ship missile defence tactics and training, the larger value of Strike Group Defender is an underlying ecosystem of technologies that we have not yet seen in the navy."

Image: The virtual trainer simulates air strikes. Photo: courtesy of US ONR.