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Tech Tip – Controlling the Airspace in VR-Forces

VR-Forces is a simulation tool with capabilities that are both deep and wide. That means that you can simulate in all domains from undersea to outer space. In this Tech Tip, I'll focus on controlling the air space. To effectively manage all the air assets in real-time, an Air Controller needs to set up the simulation display to show just the information that is needed at the time it's needed, and needs to be able to select and quickly give orders to any or all of the aircraft. These four steps describe how to customize and use VR-Forces to do just that. You can watch me go through these steps in this short video.

Step 1: Optimize the GUI for the Air Domain.

Make sure your display settings are set to read out units and display information appropriate to the air domain.

  • Choose a digital map for your 2D view (see last month's Tech Tip on creating domain-specific 2D map views in VR-Forces)
  • Set the reference grid to display Latitude/Longitude (Settings > Display > Grid Line Settings)
  • Set the display units to nautical miles, knots & magnetic north (Settings > Display > Display Units Settings)
  • Rotate icons to direction heading (Settings > Display > Entity Display Settings > Rotate Entity Military Standard Symbols to Heading)
  • Show bearings (Observer > Mouse Bullseye Position)

Step 2. Load the Airspace Coordinating Measures

If you have an actual Airspace Control Order file you can import it (File > Import Scenario Objects). I don't, so I just used the VR-Forces GUI to create my airspace coordinating measures. I added the following tactical graphics:

  • Several air refueling stations
  • An air defense ID zone
  • A missile engagement zone
  • A Bullseye – this becomes a reference point only known to the blue forces.

Step 3: Model the Air Tasking Orders

Now, populate the simulation with the air assets that you want to control.
  • Use the Simulation Objects toolbar to place aircraft at the ready at bases, or in the air en route or on station.
  • Give them initial orders (Tasks)
  • Use Task > Establish Refueling Stations to task a tanker to be ready for air-to-air refueling
  • Include OPFOR aircraft and give them an initial Plan.

Bonus Step: Because we are working in a multi-domain world, you can also load Military Scenario Definition Language (MSDL) files to include the tactical graphics and entities defined by ground units.


Step 4: Control the Airspace

As the simulation runs you can now quickly select and task any of the entities.

  • Press Play to start the simulation.
  • Open the View > Entity Control Panel to quickly direct the aircraft to adjust their heading, altitude, and speed.
  • Use View > Last Selected Object Panel to assign tasks to selected entities.
  • The Views > Object List > Overlays tab lets you clean up your screen by turning off/on information that is not relevant as you go along.

There are a lot more settings that allow you to customize the way you interact with VR-Forces. Remember that your settings are saved when you save the scenario, so you'll be ready to master the airspace in your next simulation exercise.

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