The US Naval Aviation Training System and Ranges program office (PMA-205) has completed the initial hardware qualification testing of its Tactical Combat Training System Increment II (TCTS II).

Developed and built by Collins Aerospace Systems, TCTS II is the US Navy’s next-generation air combat training system.

Conducted by the Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23, the pod was tested on an F/A-18E/F Super Hornet at the Naval Air Station Patuxent River.

PMA-205 programme manager captain Lisa Sullivan said: “It is a significant milestone event when a system moves from lab testing to aircraft testing at Pax River.

“Due to the hard work of our government and industry team, these tests are meeting programme schedule dates to enable low rate production this April.”

Featuring an open systems architecture, TCTS II is an encrypted, multi-level security, air combat instrumentation system.

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With additional onboard interactive training models, the system allows live, combined with synthetic real-time air combat training between aircraft to take place securely.

The pod also enables aircrew to use real and simulated weapons and electronic warfare tactics with simulated threats for air combat manoeuvring training.

PMA-205 TCTS II lead assistant programme manager for test and evaluation Melissa Benish said: “This is one step closer to bringing these real-time training capabilities to the warfighter, in the end allowing them to train like they fight.

“Our strategy is developmental test with a focus on mission-level requirements.”