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Simulation Systems

Page history last edited by Alan Hartley-Smith 11 years, 7 months ago






This activity came with the absorption of the Elliott interests.


Whilst some of the Elliott products were familiar to Marconi because the two companies had worked together on various projects or in consortia, Digital Radar Simulators were totally new. The technology had been developed by Elliotts and the Royal Radar Establishment and resulted in the world’s first digital radar simulator – Sim X. This led directly to the contract for Sim M and the SLEWC simulator followed.


Paul Baird, who had been involved with Sim X and RRE, joined the Sales Department  in Chelmsford and set out about promoting Radar Simulation Systems. This led, in 1972, to an order from the Egyptian Air Force for two systems.  Subsequently there were many customers from all around the world for these simulators.


Projects that moved to Chelmsford were:


Sim-M                   The radar simulator for the Linesman Project (although the staff for this project were based

                             on site,  at West Drayton)

                   Instilux                 A simulator for the Eurocontrol Institute in Luxembourg

GL161                   Transportable Display and Data Handling (D&DH) Systems for RAF using Plessey Displays

SLEWC                  Standby Local Early Warning and Control D&DH Systems for RAF using Marconi Displays.

                            One system included a radar simulator.

NADGE                  Simulation and IFF Processing equipments for the NADGE Project


Excerpt from Harry Cole's paper

Elliott Automation was a pioneer of digital tech­nology and its Airspace Control Division brought to Marconi Radar the data handling elements of automated air defence systems, digital processing of SSR signals and the then new technology of digital radar simulation systems.


These were of tremendous use to those engaged in the training of fighter controllers and air traffic controllers. Elliotts had been responsible for developing this technology under RRE sponsorship and brought contracts with them when they joined Marconi. I got first-hand knowledge of the usefulness of the techniques of radar simulation when I inherited systems responsibility for a contract to supply the Egyptian Air Force with two simulator systems. Their value to the user lay in the realism created by the system which allowed extremely life­-like scenarios to be presented to students without the need for actual aircraft flights, thus avoiding the enormous expense of flying and the hazards of real-life interceptions going wrong. The Elliott 905 computer and its peripheral equipment generated radar signals to simulate ground and weather clutter, radar signals generated by aircraft, complete with 'target glint', realistic vertical polar diagrams with mountain 'shadowing' where appropriate and IFF signals for friendly aircraft. Aircraft tracks could be set up and steered by 'pilots' operating one of a suite of tabular displays and keyboards upon which speed, heading, aircraft size (echoing area), state of weapons etc. could be input. The 'pilots' would be in simulated radio contact with trainee controllers who would exercise their skills by viewing the radar PPI. Thus, with these same facilities, both air traffic controllers or intercept controllers could be trained. In interceptions for added realism, the aircraft's missiles would sometimes fail in a random fashion by dint of the system 'rolling a die' upon which one face said ‘Bent Weapon’.

The two SLEWC systems were completely assembled in the Pre-Commissioning Test Area at Baddow in 1971 so that the software and all facilities could be thoroughly checked before delivery. Subsequently, about fifteen similar systems were sold to Singapore, Jordan, Kenya, Oman, Australia and the Royal Air Force.


ATC and Air Defence Simulators [9/113]

920 ATC Computer - Computer Interface Unit - Radar Signal Generator Aircraft Control Unit


SEEC - Simulation Equipment Electronic Countermeasures [9/112]


TEPIGEN - Television Picture Generator [9/111]


STEG - Simulated Timebase and Echo generator - a portable radar training simulator [9/111]


S5027 Simulator Operations Cabin



Input from Steve Bousfield

Radar Simulation in MRSL



At some point in the planning of the system that was to become Linesman the powers that be decided a training tool would be needed to ensure that operators were fully able to exploit the system’s potential.


Radar simulators were not new but the analogue technology in use at the time placed limitations on their effectiveness for such a large, complex system. It was therefore decided to look into the feasibility of digital radar simulation. Work began at The Royal Radar Establishment at Malvern and eventually a ‘proof of concept’ type contract was placed with Elliott Automation for the development of what was to become the world’s first digital radar simulator, known as SimX. Based on an Elliott (803?503?502?) real time computer, the capability of this system to generate 1000 simultaneous targets was not equalled or surpassed for many years.


The success of SimX led to the inclusion of a digital radar simulator in the Linesman requirement and the placing of a contract with Elliotts for what was to be known as SimM. This was capable of simulating the multiple radar sources that fed the Linesman display system.


SLEWC (Standby Local Early Warning Control)

With recognition that a centralised Fighter Control function was somewhat risky it was decided to move the intercept function to two Standby Local Early Warning Control centres. These were to be equipped with Elliott data handling systems, one of which also incorporated a radar simulation function.


The SLEWC systems were based on the Elliott 920C computer – a militarised version of the 905, and the simulation hardware used military style ATR packaging.


The SLEWC project was begun at Elliotts but completed at MRSL


900 Series Simulators

The militarised packaging of SLEWC was very expensive so a more commercial version of its simulator was devised based on the Elliott 905 computer with the simulation hardware re-packaged in standard 19inch racking.


The first systems were sold to the United Arab Republic, as Egypt was then known. Their order was for two self-contained training systems each being capable of simulating two primary and one secondary radars feeding five display consoles each with two S3009 displays. IFF controls were provided by the newly designed DCLU. A communications network and set of tote boards completed the training environment. These systems were also the launching pad for a new design of operator console, devised by Ken Knight and his team, that used a bought-in plinth with a wooden surface mount made by the carpenters. The Egyptian ones were made of solid teak and looked particularly handsome.


With technology moving on at a high pace it became possible to reduce considerably the amount of hardware needed for the simulation function and what previously took four 19inch racks to house was reduced to a single 19 inch rack.


Singapore was the first recipient of this new hardware.


Over the next few years orders were received from the RAF for, eventually, five systems, the Royal Australian Air Force for four [Editors note - see item below], Oman and Kenya. They were supplied as stand-alone schools in buildings, in Portakabins, in mobile shelters and with interfaces so they could be integrated with S600 systems, sometimes a combination of these configurations. They were integrated with both Marconi radar systems and those of other manufacturers. We also implemented two upgrade contracts on the original Egyptian systems. One of these replaced the simulation hardware with the newer design and the other the computers. Each of these update contracts was of greater value than the original contract.


Each contract brought new advances with, for example, the original paper tape recording system giving way to, initially, floppy disc and subsequently magnetic tape cassettes, and a move to TV technology for the ‘pilot’ displays The 905 computer became obsolescent but fortunately we were able utilise the 920ATC and in the last contracts, MC1800 machines. These were produced by Marconi Avionics and Marconi Defence Systems, both of whom had large investments in 900 series computer architecture and software.


Another project was the Instilux Simulator, a system for the Eurocontrol Institute of Air Navigation in Luxembourg. Using a (pair?) of 905 computers and displays from Plessey it didn’t attempt to ‘model’ radar video but was intended ( if I remember correctly) for procedural evaluation rather than training. It was started at Elliotts but completed by MRSL – Phil Prowse is the man who knows all about it.


A variant of the simulation hardware was designed to output its signals at IF instead of the usual video levels, and thus enabled a radar’s signal processing chain to be exercised and training in countermeasures to be carried out. This type of simulation became an option for the Martello.


The Simulation business was viewed by some in the company as somehow not mainstream. Those in the know and with access to the figures would see, however, that it was a ‘nice little earner’ regularly generating gross contribution figures that more mainstream projects could only dream of.


Much of the success must be put down to the fact that all the projects were, for the most part, implemented by the same small team – the same systems engineers, the same software engineers and even the same installation engineer.


After 900 Series

900 series compatible computers were increasingly difficult to source so after a careful evaluation it was decided that any new sales would be based on the (GEC 4000 ?) computer.


There were two potential customers lined up, both of whom we had been courting for a considerable period – the Iraqi Air Force and the Finnish Air Force.


Around the same time it was decided to form a new division – Data Systems – with Software Services and Simulation systems as its business areas.


The Iraqi Air Force was interested in an air defence training school. After visits by the Iraqi Air Force to Chelmsford and many trips to Baghdad, whilst the Iran- Iraq war was in progress, we eventually arrived at an agreed configuration of a simulator driving three de-mounted Mace cabins. Even though the Mace cabins could easily have been fed with live signals and used for live operations we had no trouble in gaining an export license. Negotiations continued for a long time and just as it appeared that they might bear fruit Iraq invaded Kuwait and that was the end of that.


The Finnish Air Force (FAF) prospect however came to contract and was implemented as the first system project of the new Data Systems Division. The transition to the new computer was not without its difficulties. The FAF also had its own operating procedures that differed somewhat from what we were used to – for example the use of both metric and imperial units of altitude, and very specific attack profiles. Eventually the project was completed and we ended up with a very happy customer.


With hindsight it is amazing that the simulation business survived at all in MRSL. There was a separate Simulation and Training Division in Scotland whose MD was the former MD of Elliott’s Airspace Control Division. He had aspirations of being the centre of excellence for all things simulation in GEC-Marconi. In some areas they were very successful but fortunately their one attempt at a radar simulator in the early days was something of a failure. Then there was STEG – a small handheld simulation device designed at Leicester. This didn’t gather any customers as far as I’m aware.


In the end though, it was the move to fully synthetic displays that rendered the simulation of radar video obsolete.


Input from Steve Bousfield

The Australians bought four simulators from us, first a batch of three and then they took up an option on a fourth. Colin Hewitt was the RAAF overall project officer ( their project included TPS 43 radars from Westinghouse) and the Fl Lt Pete ? was 'embedded' at Writtle Road for quite a long period to work on / learn the software . We had a fairly large team from the RAAF over for training and in this pic the whole team is shown making a presentation to Ian Butler so I think this was the completion of the three-off project. Ray Willis, our Project Manager is also in this one. Garry Minors then went out to Australia to give further on-the job training.














Input from Andrew Colchester

The Simulation and Training Systems Division at Leicester had several customers in both the military and civil field. Tepigen was the picture generation system for training and simulation systems capable of full colour cgi. The Tepigen system was very hardware intensive, recognising the severe speed limitations of general purpose computing elements at the time. From memory a five picture (five TVs or TV projected images) system could well involve twenty full height racks of computery, and reliability remained an issue. [Editors note - additional  comment from Andrew. Tepigen was massive! And, of course, it was not a simulation device in itself, but a very advanced (at the time) computer generated imaging system to support a simulation system. Its sheer size was its main weakness. To complete a one hour exercise without one small malfunction in twenty racks or more of equipment was highly unlikely. The momentary picture breakup could be enough to lose the total virtual reality of the simulation.]


So far as I am aware Tepigen was only ever supplied mated to a motion system of another manufacturer. The best example to my mind was the ship simulator training system at Cardiff in which a complete ship's bridge was created fitted out with all the equipment normally found on a ship's bridge, and used for navigation training by the Cardiff maritime college. The motion platform was provided either by Rediffusion or by Singer Link Miles. There was also the Sea Harrier simulator at Yeovilton where Marconi provided the three-channel visuals whilst the motion system was provided by Singer. Tepigen was also a hot contender for the US AV8B flight simulator in conjunction with Sperry before the Tepigen project was cancelled.


The main business of the division was in the supply of gunnery/missile and fighting vehicle trainers for the army. 







Comments (1)

Ian Gillis said

at 4:59 pm on Feb 14, 2016

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