Around three-and-a-half years ago, Canadian-headquartered training system integrator CAE established its regional office in Abu Dhabi, reflecting increased business in the Gulf region, and in the UAE in particular. The company's first Middle East business was to deliver flight simulators to the Royal Saudi Air Force in 1982, and in 2002 it began its association with the UAE with the establishment of the joint-venture Emirates-CAE Flight Training facility.
In recent years, the company has moved away from being primarily a manufacturer of simulators to become a full-spectrum training provider, offering integrated systems that include instruction and, in some cases, live platforms.
As the training partner for General Atomics and provider of Predator/ Reaper training for the US Air Force, CAE has also developed considerable expertise in the remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) sector.
That expertise has been put to use in establishing an integrated training solution for the UAE's RQ-1E Predator fleet, including live flying training. Contracted in May 2017, the RQ-1E facility has already completed two full courses, with a third under way.
CAE provides fully flight-rated instructors for the facility, as well as a range of training aids, including a Predator Mission Trainer. In three instances to date, CAE instructors have successfully recovered RQ‑1Es that have developed in-flight problems and might otherwise have been lost.
In conjunction with the Khalifa Bin Zayed Air College, CAE also provides an RPA Fundamentals course at Al Ain. Two full courses have been conducted so far, giving pilots and sensor operators a thorough grounding in the principles and operational application of RPAs. A third course begins in May. The UAE is looking to ultimately dual-qualify its RPA crews in both pilot and operator roles, with the aim of eventually moving to single-operator missions.
In 2016, CAE was contracted by the UAE's Joint Aviation Command (JAC) to deliver training systems for the Northstar/ Bell 407MRH and Sikorsky UH‑60M Armed Black Hawk (ABH) helicopters. The 407MRH system comprises six table-top trainers, which were delivered in 2017, and a fixed-base, high-fidelity, Level-7 equivalent flight training device (FTD) that offers a wide field-of-view. The FTD has been completed and accepted, and is due for delivery to the JAC in mid-2019 upon completion of the training facility.
For the UH-60M ABH, the company is providing a full-mission, full-motion CAE 3000 Series simulator similar to that delivered to the Royal Brunei Air Force. Currently in the integration phase at CAE's Tampa, Florida, facility, and scheduled for delivery to the JAC in late 2019, the simulator is reconfigurable between the armed ABH and utility transport configurations. It is based on the simulator that CAE has developed for the US Army's 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment.
Another major CAE programme is the UAE Naval Training Centre (NTC) being established at Taweelah that provides comprehensive naval training, ranging from instruction of individual operators in a range of disciplines, through combat team and whole-ship training, to multi-vessel exercises. The NTC is close to reaching its critical design review milestone. The first-phase Ready For Training (RFT1) milestone is due for mid-2020. Various bridge simulators that are provided by Dutch subcontractor VSTEP are now in shakedown at the CAE's Montreal facility, and the NTC building is nearly complete. Later this year, some elements will be declared as Ready To Use (RTU).
Ship simulators can represent various classes of vessel, and can be configured with specific combat management systems. A development path for the NTC envisages the networking of additional distributed sites, and the integration of live vessels that are both alongside in port or at sea.
Elsewhere in the GCC region, CAE is developing the Joint Multinational Simulation Centre, which will provide a theatre-level training facility for tactical/strategic staff/command training and decision support, including multi-national operations. In Kuwait, CAE has established a training facility with full-mission simulator for the air force's Lockheed KC-130J tanker/ transport fleet at Al Mubarak air base. The centre is likely to expand with the addition of helicopter and fast-jet training systems.
In 2018, CAE signed a servicelevel agreement with the Omani Authority for Partnership for Development to support the creation of the Oman Aerospace Academy. Being established under EASA regulations and initially overseen by CAE's EASA-accredited flight school at Oxford, UK, the Oman academy will train both commercial and military pilots.
CAE continues to invest heavily in new technology, with more than $1 billion earmarked over the next five years as part of its Project Digital Intelligence initiative. This project seeks to harness developments in artificial intelligence, big data, cyber security, cloud computing and augmented/virtual reality to training systems.