February 1, 2010:
The U.S. Navy has taken advantage of how an anti-submarine warfare actually works, to develop a PC based combat simulator that allows helicopter crew members to train anywhere, using software that can be run on a laptop. What makes this work is that the MH-60R anti-submarine helicopter (a navalized version of the UH-60) crew spends a lot of time just operating their computers, sonar and radar in their search for submarines. This work involves staring at a screen most of the time, while manipulating the sensors and computers to detect and locate subs. Once you have a solid location fix, you can launch a torpedo and sink the enemy vessel.
The MH-60R is equipped with a radar system for detecting subs on the surface, or just beneath the surface (with only the periscope or schnorkel, which provides air for the diesel engine, and gets rid of the exhaust fumes). The sonar system consists of a dipping sonar (connected to the helicopter via a cable) and sonobuoys, that are dropped and communicate wirelessly. Thus the helicopter crew have lots of sensors to monitor while searching for a sub. Actually flying the helicopter is a small part of their job. Thus the simulator enables the three man crew to gain much valuable practice without being anywhere near the helicopter, or the expensive conventional simulators which are excellent for flight training, but overkill for the sensor operators. The simulator cost $9 million to develop. It is undergoing testing and tweaking, and will be issued in about a year.