Playing Smart Games with Defence

By / 22nd of May, 2014

WHEN multinational defense forces undertake operations and exercises together it comes with a gamut of logistics. Not only do they deal with language and cultural barriers but also there are differing procedures, regulations and equipment.

Streamlining all these factors to create a cohesive multinational system is not simple however a South Australian company has come up with one solution.

The solution is a software program called “Cross Ops” being developed by an Adelaide-based company called PRISM.

The program allows a seamless transition for cross deck operations.

Cross deck operations occur when one nation is operating their helicopters on another nation’s ship. This transpires regularly among navies operating in areas like the Persian Gulf or the Gulf of Aden when hunting pirates.

“It happens more on military exercises where you want to be able to work with a military operation,” says Shane Patch, Flight Test Engineer and Director of PRISM. “They’ve got lots of different ships and lots of different helicopters and sometimes they'll need an American helicopter to go to an Australian naval ship, pick up some important person or deliver some supplies.”

Before a helicopter can do this it needs to go through a clearance process and that is where Cross Ops comes in.

Cross Ops assists by creating a software simulation of the helicopter landing on the ship. Utilising gaming technology, the helicopter pilot is able to recreate the landing ensuring they do not hit any structures and account for wind, spray and other elements.

Ordinarily this process can take weeks. Patch says their Cross Ops program has reduced the training time to a matter of hours. Once the software suit is fully developed, the plan is to sell as an online tool paid under a subscription model.

“Our tools are more like helping that clearance process and making it a little bit more knowledgeable for the parties involved,” says Patch. “Theoretically they could have this product at sea, they could bring in their helicopter model and ship model and simulate and get a really good idea of what's going on.”

Authorities back on shore can then assess the data and look at the geometric clearances before giving approval for the operation.

PRISM is a civilian company that has provided helicopter training to international navies for the past ten years.

Their clients include the Maltese, Danish, Swedish and Brunei navies.

Patch and his partner Craig Matthews worked together in the Australian Navy and on retiring decided to specialise in this area of defense.

Patch believes their success is attributed to their naval record as well as being an Australian company.

“We just wouldn’t have that experience for operating on navy ships if we weren’t with the Australian Navy,” he says. “That’s where we gained a lot of our expertise.”

They plan to sell the simulator as an online tool paid under a subscription model once the software suit is fully developed.

Key contacts

Shane Patch Flight Test Engineer, Director prism Defence
61 401 392 752

Called either smart or serious games, the simulation of events for Defence training took off in the early 2000s.

The first electronic game used for Defence Force training is believe to be developed by Atari in 1980 and was called Army Battlezone.

Gaming has been used as an educational tool since the 1900s.