Dec. 8 (UPI) -- The Department of Defense is planning to adopt a flight simulation program that can be installed on ordinary computers and laptops to supplement pilot training.
According to Air Force Lt. Col. Eric Frahm, the Joint Immersive Training System, or JTS isn't meant to replace simulators or real-time flying but to augment them and accelerate the pace of training.
The Air Force has reported a pilot shortage, which has limited the number of flight instructors available for one-on-one training, and it is cost prohibitive to build more simulators because they can cost nearly as much as actual aircraft, Frahm said.
The Defense Innovation Unit plans to deploy about 50 JTS devices to Randolph Air Force Base in Texas and Vance Air Force Base in Oklahoma over the next year to train students on the T-6 and T-38 aircraft.
"Our team will collect detailed feedback from everyday instructors and students to understand how the system performs for them," Frahm said. "We'll incorporate that feedback into at least three redesigns of the hardware and countless revisions of the software. In the end, we want a system that will be flexible, adaptable, scalable and speeds the rate of competency attainment within our pilot force."
The software uses a combination of virtual reality, artificial intelligence and machine learning and commercial off-the-shelf products, including controls similar to joysticks.
The JTS program allows students to take laptops home and train on them at their own pace or use them at work.
The system also includes a more sophisticated variant with a specialized gaming chair and realistic flight controls similar to a cockpit.
The software allows students to practice flying on their own without an instructor present, but it can also be used with an instructor who is virtually present and could monitor a number of students simultaneously.
The Air Force partnered with four different companies to create the system, including Vertex, Google, CAE and Discovery Machine.