Sometimes incorporating gaming in national security training requires a new program, complete with a full development lifecycle. However, as the market for commercial gaming continues to extend its reach, the products that support the defense and military industry need to grow even more. Reducing the time to build and meet user requirements is a key component in growing capabilities with faster timelines and reduced price tags. Frost & Sullivan’s recent analysis of the defense and simulation market shows that game engineers in the defense industry heavily use commercial gaming. Additionally, the use of game engines in defense have been on the rise.

Virtual Options On the Rise for Training

“The decline in live training has highlighted the need for live, virtual, and constructive (LCV), joint, and collective training strategies,” said Alexander Clark, Senior Research Analyst, Aerospace & Defense Practice, Frost & Sullivan. “Owing to disruptions in training routines and limited access to simulators, certain military units have taken to adopting specific commercial games for practice and the maintenance of certain skills.”

Clark added: “With global tensions on the rise, the use of virtual elements will decrease physical presence in areas of high tension and reduce the possibility of escalation. Evolving trends such as the focus on asymmetric and hybrid warfare, the need for deployable training solutions, and rising momentum of operational deployment will further fuel the demand for portable and customized defense T&S solutions.”

Exhibit A: F-35 Training

We see it with all the chatter about funding for programs. For example, the F-35 joint strike fighter program is looking at reducing live training for pilots and instead, increasing use of simulators as a way to reduce the sustainment costs. With the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps all flying the F-35, cost is on the front of everyone’s minds.

“We’re working with the U.S. services right now to figure out how we smartly take some of the flight hours and move them over into the simulators to maximize our training dollars, but also reduce costs across the sustainment arm in the enterprise,” Navy Capt. Robert Betts, program manager of the F-35 training management office, said at the annual Training Simulation Industry Symposium in Orlando, which is hosted by the National Training and Simulation Association.

“Less flight hours means less broken parts on airplanes, less spares, less spare parts,” he said. “There could be a significant savings there for the enterprise.”

With all eyes on affordability, everyone is on board with reducing costs. Currently, the cost per hour to fly the F-35 is estimated at $36,000, which is a drop from it’s $44,000 back in 2018. While costs are estimated to reduce further, long term training options are much more affordable in a simulator.

Decrease Cost and Grow Capabilities – Gaming is the Answer

With delays and costs under the microscope, advocates are looking for ways to keep the capabilities of the F-35 but continue to address all of the concerns. Whether it’s increasing the warfighters capabilities with the F-35 simulator or a virtual sniper range, gaming increases capabilities in a cost effective way. Live training may still have it’s place, but with more remote work options on the rise and increases in technology, wargaming, simulators, virtual reality, and various skills-based video games will continue to explode. But as technologies grow, it’s important to make sure that the defense industry is benefiting from all of the latest advancements to ensure that any game-based trainings or simulations are in keeping with the times.

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Jillian Hamilton has worked in a variety of Program Management roles for multiple Federal Government contractors. She has helped manage projects in training and IT. She received her Bachelors degree in Business with an emphasis in Marketing from Penn State University and her MBA from the University of Phoenix.