Dawn of a new age

As part of the Australian Defence Force's Jericho Dawn Program, the installation of eye and head tracking sensor technologies was successfully demonstrated in the Hawk-127 Lead-in-Fighter flight simulators at 76 Squadron, RAAF Base Williamtown.

The impressive eye tracking technology will enable fighter instructors to monitor a student fighter pilot's point of gaze, dwell time and gaze pattern.

The instructor will then be able to identify poor scanning technique and student response time, either live or post-mission.

On observing the new technology installed on the Hawk-127 simulator, XO 78 Wing, Wing Commander Christopher Plain said with a Seeing Machines Crew Training System (CTS), they could ascertain between novice and expert scan patterns.

"Using CTS, new Hawk-127 pilots can be coached to better perform certain scans, thereby improving performance in mission achievement, efficiency, time to competency, proficiency and safety," Wing Commander Plain said.

Air Force's Air Warfare Centre (AWC) Innovation Hub has been running the Jericho Dawn Program since late 2017. The opportunity to work with Seeing Machines technology was identified and initiated by Mark Corbett, RAAF Institute of Aviation Medicine (IAM).

A Defence and industry collaboration was setup with CAE, Seeing Machines and RAAF IAM, AWC Innovation Hub and Air Combat Group to install the technology in under six months.

"Our focus is to put future innovative capability into the hands of the user as quickly as possible," Innovation Hub Manager Squadron Leader Myles Clarke said.

On completion of the demonstration, 78 Wing formally supported the installation of the technology to the next phase, which will see the eye and face tracking installed on the Hawk simulators at 76 Squadron and 79 Squadron (RAAF Base Pearce) until April 2020.

Over this time, Seeing Machines, 78 Wing and RAAF IAM will be analysing the data collected to enable the best use of the technology in the training system, with a goal to progress from initial capability to full capability by 2020.

Seeing Machines Aviation General Manager Patrick Nolan said using evidence-based training to understand pilots' scan behaviour provided significant value, not only in reducing failure rates and the associated cost of training, but ultimately in enhancing the training and operational outcomes of ASH Pilots candidates.

"Successful applications will enable further potential applications across the ADF," he said.

The objective of the Jericho Dawn Program is to demonstrate new capability and introduce it quickly to enhance joint warfighting effects on an enduring basis.

The program fosters a greater tolerance of programmatic risk and acceptance of failure as a normal part of innovation.

The Jericho Dawn demonstrations conducted by the Air Warfare Centre have seen innovative technologies permanently installed onto aircraft and world-leading micro-power generation being trialled in the field by 2020.

A further two Jericho Dawn demonstrations will be delivered in the coming months - Virtual Tower and Terminal Ballistics.