US Navy flight tests TCTS II air combat training system on F/A-18F
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US Navy flight tests TCTS II air combat training system on F/A-18F

02 Feb 2021

The US Naval Aviation Training System and Ranges programme office (PMA-205) has flight tested the Tactical Combat Training System Increment II (TCTS II) on an F/A-18F Super Hornet.

US Navy flight tests TCTS II air combat training system on F/A-18F
The TCTS II pod successfully completed its first single aircraft flight test at Patuxent River. Credit: US Navy.

The US Naval Aviation Training System and Ranges programme office (PMA-205) has flight tested the Tactical Combat Training System Increment II (TCTS II) on an F/A-18F Super Hornet.

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

TCTS II features an open systems architecture. It is a certified encrypted, multi-level security, air combat instrumentation system.

PMA-205 programme manager captain Lisa Sullivan said: “Our team faced software, Covid, and platform challenges but worked with urgency to stay on track for low rate initial production decision in April.

“The fact that the date has not changed since contract award in 2017 speaks volumes of not only our team but also the level of support from the navy to field this capability.”

Conducted by the Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23, the testing was carried out at the Naval Air Station (NAS) Patuxent River in Maryland, US.

The TCTS II pod first flew on a single aircraft on 11 December and then on two aircraft on 15 December.

PMA-205 TCTS II lead test engineer Jake Kiehlmeier said: “This is the first time the team has been able to see the system in use in a real-world environment using an operational platform.

“These tests provide valuable insight into system performance, including pod-to-pod and pod-to-ground datalink performance, positional accuracy, and weapon simulations.”

In November last year, PMA-205 completed the initial hardware qualification testing of TCTS II.

The US Air Force has also joined the TCTS II programme to leverage the capabilities offered by the system.