The US Air Force has successfully completed its first training missions over the Distributed Mission Training (DMT) network, an architecture developed by TRW Inc. that ties together high resolution flight simulators over a high speed fiber-optic network. Through this network, pilots and reconnaissance operators at Air Force bases hundreds of miles apart are now able to rehearse missions together in a computer-generated environment.

The current DMT network links together four Boeing F-15 simulators in mission training centers and four threat stations at both Eglin and Langley Air Force bases in Florida and Virginia, respectively, 14 PLEXSYS Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) training consoles at Tinker Air Force base in Oklahoma, and TRW's Network Operations Center in Orlando.

The first baseline-training mission was conducted on Dec. 18, 2001 between AWACS operators at Tinker and F-15C pilots at Eglin. The second was conducted Feb. 7, 2002 between F-15C at Langley and AWACS operators at Tinker.

For the next phase of network expansion, TRW will integrate four Lockheed-Martin F-16 simulators and four threat stations at the mission-training center currently under development at Shaw Air Force base in South Carolina. Integration of these simulators into the DMT network is scheduled for completion later this year.

Real-time, secure transfer of simulator data over the DMT network is accomplished by employing a combination of technologies including encryption, switched virtual circuits and ATM (asynchronous transfer mode), which minimize the delay time, or latency, for data transferred between simulators. Minimizing latency allows maneuvers made by pilots, such as a sudden turn or a barrel roll, to be immediately displayed on another simulator hundreds of miles away, thereby providing a more realistic training environment and ensuring a "fair fight" among all participants.