Already capturing large swathes of the regional training requirements, CAE, the Canadian manufacturer of simulation technologies and training provider, is working with the UAE, among others in the region, in areas such as maritime command and training for the air force’s RQ-1E UAVs.
The UAE’s RQ-1E’s are located at Liwa Air Base, which also hosts the on-site training capability for its pilots and CAE personnel. CAE and the Khalifa Bin Zayad Air College also offer RPA Fundamentals courses, two of which have been completed with a third beginning in May 2019.
Such has been the demand for the UAE’s unmanned capabilities, pilots already qualified have been deployed on operations.
Ian Bell, VP Middle East/Asia-Pacific at CAE, said that CAE’s RPA trainers conducted the flight take-offs and landings, transitioning to UAE personnel once airborne. The company’s trainers had also dealt with three instances of ‘fuel contamination’ since the programme began, successfully bringing the UAVs to a safe landing on each occasion.
It is thought that the UAE roadmap could point towards future manned-unmanned teaming (MUM-T) operations, although Bell would not be drawn on what aims the country had in this regard. CAE was however, able to meet any future training demand, Bell said.
Additionally, Bell disclosed that the first full bridge simulators destined for the UAE Maritime Warfare Centre were currently in Montreal ‘ready for shakedown’. The simulators are reconfigurable and able to represent multiple classes of ships.
Development of the simulators would continue through to 2020 towards the RfT 1 phase, he stated, however the deadline for bringing the center online would likely not be met, potentially being ‘a little late’.
The contract to design, build and maintain the UAE naval training requirement was awarded in 2016 with the main facility in Taweelah to be augmented through distributed training centers in future phases.
Drinkwater and other Al Seer officials also said that one of the challenges in the development of USVs was the ongoing efforts to create the maritime regulatory framework in which they will eventually operate. Presently, collision regulation protocol is adhered to according to existing IMO guidelines.