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EXCLUSIVE: Ace fighter pilot warns the RAF needs to address “readiness, lethality, and training,” amid a growing threat from Russian and Chinese aircraft.
Royal Air Force bosses have been urged to look to revolutionary new technology to help prepare British pilots to counter emerging global threats. A former Tornado pilot has told Express.co.uk the RAF’s outdated training is lagging behind that of allies such United States by decades. Pilot Daniel Robinson, the first foreign national to be selected to fly the US’ most lethal aeroplane, the F-22 Raptor, argued that RAF needs to address “readiness, lethality, and training,” especially as the military shift focus to preparing for “peer adversaries.”
Mr Robinson told Express.co.uk: “Having the unique experience of being both an RAF pilot and flying with the US and flying the F22, I’ve often lamented that the UK is always like 10 to 20 years down the US Air Force.
“As a Brit, well I’m a dual citizen now Britain and American, I really want to help solve some of the problems that are going on in the UK from production to readiness to lethality to training as we make this pivot to focus on peer adversities.”
He added: “We don’t want to go anywhere near a conflict right? But we need to be credible and to be credible, we need to be lethal.
“We need to train and we need to train rather than every single day at scale.”
As the first non-American to fly the F22 Raptor in the US, Mr Robinson gained valuable insight into the world’s most capable aircraft and some of the problems associated with both that and other combat jets.
Mr Robinson told Express.co.uk these problems included a lack of training at scale and relevance, a shortage of pilots, and a lack of planes to train against.
He said: “We don’t have enough pilots, we’re not producing them and we can’t keep them, and the training that we give them is not relevant. It’s not frequent enough and it’s not at the scale we need to simulate high-intensity warfighting right because we have become kind of complacent in the notion that air dominance or air supremacy is a preordained natural right to the west, right?
He explained how the move by Western militaries from counterinsurgency warfare in the Middle East to peer adversaries, has created an urgent need to simulate high-intensity warfighting on a large scale, which required more relevant and efficient training.
Mr Robinson told Express: “We had a lack of training, we had a lack of training at scale, and we had a lack of training at relevancy as we made that pivot or began to make that pivot from focusing on counterinsurgency warfare in the Middle East to focus on peer adversaries.”
“There are three fundamental problems as I saw it, one is a lack of pilots on the frontline, we are hard to find and it’s hard to train, it is hard to keep us, especially when airlines are hiring and we’re spending so much time overseas and we’re working 14, 15 hour days and we’re all burned out, right?
“So you’ve got a lack of pilots, which stems to how do we produce and then how do we retain, both of which are problems.
“You have a lack of availability of aeroplanes to go training in so the notion that I was flying an F22 and then pretending to be in adversity in an aeroplane that costs $100,000 an hour to fly was crazy to me, right?”
Training of the future
Mr Robinson has proposed a revolutionary technological solution, using a combination of augmented reality and artificial intelligence to allow pilots to enter a simulated environment while flying their actual planes outdoors, bridging the gap between traditional training methods and simulation.
He told Express.co.uk: “I came up with a thesis that basically answered one question, what if I could create a virtual world in the sky. This is where real pilots and real aeroplanes could look out the window and not only in the no visual range environment, but then also within visual range environment.
“And if I could do that, I was going to because at that point now, provided you have intelligence on the platforms and let’s assume we have a solid intelligence base. It’s simply code.
“So you can train against whatever you want, whenever you want, wherever you are, at whatever scale you want, as well.”
In 2018, Mr Robinson established his company, Red6, with the goal of transforming the training of military personnel by developing this new technology which has been christened CARBON.
Red6 says CARBON is “the world’s first outdoor synthetic training environment that enables within visual range manoeuvring”.
By utilising augmented reality and artificial intelligence, CARBON hopes to enable actual pilots flying in real airplanes to engage with virtual threats.
Mr Robinson told Express.co.uk: “This technology not only solves the same problems in the UK. But it is the future of how I am certain we will train as combat air forces across the allied nations. So not only do we need to adopt this technology, but we will want to because if the US goes this way, which inevitably will, the US Air Force, the UK and all of the allies around the world have the same problems but they will need to be able to train with us as well.
“So we have built something really, really important that can directly impact the production of pilots, the readiness of pilots and the lethality of pilots in a representative threat environment at scale and a fraction of the cost.”