Powerhouse simulation system delivers Army training exercise

Raytheon UK’s CAST team deploys to Brunei with ABACUS simulation system to train and validate First Battalion, The Royal Gurkha Rifles

To deliver ULU-WARRIOR, the Ministry of Defence selected Raytheon UK’s, constructive simulation, Advanced Battlespace Computer Simulation System, or ABACUS, to train and validate 350+ Gurkhas for combat readiness. Detailed planning of the exercise by the company’s Command and Staff Training, or CAST, team uncovered interesting risk factors – not least environmental considerations some 10,000 miles on the other side of the world.

“I never thought in my career that I’d complete a risk assessment that included real-life crocodiles, snakes and monkeys,” said Ken, CAST team lead for Raytheon UK at the Melsonby facility in North Yorkshire.

It was also a new experience for colleagues Lee, Dave, Trefor and Craig who, like Ken, had previously trained the British Army’s Gurkhas at the CAST Catterick facility in the UK.

Constructive simulation system powerhouse

When it comes to maintaining the Gurkha’s global reputation of being one of the most versatile and feared fighting rifles, ABACUS is key. 

The high-fidelity command and staff training simulation software provides interactive, real-time battlefield simulation to support ground manoeuvre warfare troops as well as air and maritime forces.

“ABACUS is a constructive simulation powerhouse for the British Army and is critical to its command and staff training. This is down to the size and complexity of simulations and scenarios it can produce, as proven with other British Army validation events we support internationally, including Exercise CERBERUS in Germany,” said Lee, CAST deputy team lead for Raytheon UK at Melsonby. 

Fully interoperable with other complimentary and allied training interfaces, ABACUS houses very large mapping areas that far exceed most simulation systems. The company has incorporated elements of combat such as electronic warfare, live news and social feeds – aspects typical of non-kinetic and asymmetric warfare – to represent a fuller spectrum of conflict. It can also simulate at scale for enhanced training.  

“Crucially for our customers, our technology has evolved in step with today’s battlefield landscape to ensure that the environment within ABACUS is truly realistic. We provide a hugely authentic simulation system that interfaces seamlessly with other technologies such as Defence Virtual Simulation, Virtual Command & Control Interface, 4C Strategies and the customer’s Common Battlefield Application Toolset, or ComBAT, system,” said Ken.

Raytheon UK team members stand in front of a sunny field outside the First Battalion Royal Guard in Brunai 

Raytheon UK CAST team members arrive at First Battalion, The Royal Gurkha Rifles base.

Flexible delivery

Trained to operate alongside allies in adverse climates – from desert to jungle – the Gurkhas are infanteers comprising Nepali soldiers, Nepali officers and British officers located in the UK and South-East Asia. 

For this CAST exercise training was conducted in both the live field and simulated environments. This included approximately 30 Gurkhas across all ranks receiving ABACUS training, delivered solely by the Raytheon UK engineers.

“We pride ourselves in delivering complex mobile exercises anywhere and at any time,” said Ken. “Even during the COVID-19 lockdowns, all our engineers were out in the field conducting exercises for those units required to carry on protecting the country. This time was no different in moving ABACUS and our team more than 10,000 miles to support the British Army’s training requirements in South Asia.” 

Precision planning

Planning began with the customer in September 2023, however, the CAST team’s versability and resilience was tested before they had even set foot on their plane, with cancelled flights, a team member unable to travel and no day of rest before starting the exercise.

With their focus on delivery, the team made light work of unpacking 62 boxes of equipment and then set to work on networking the Exercise control room and installing the ABACUS constructive simulation technology, completing the set-up on schedule.

Customer understanding 

The tight-knit team of engineers are all located at Melsonby – a relatively new facility focused on supporting off-site military exercises.   

When required, the team of seven at Melsonby deploy off site. However, when they deploy to Germany, Dave and Trefor lead while the remaining staff revert to supporting as senior Engineers. “We have all worked together for many years and have built up huge trust and respect,” said Ken. 

With over 22 years’ service each – including active operations in Northern Ireland, the Gulf War, Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan – the CAST team of former Army veterans bring a unique understanding of the customer to these exercises.  

Even with 63 years of combined experience in collective training between them, the jungle presented new challenges. The detailed ‘in-country’ risk survey carried out by Ken and Lee prior to the exercise considered everything right down to measures to prevent the ABACUS simulation equipment from overheating to factual briefings on reptilian aggressors. 

“Saltwater crocodiles can run 18 miles an hour for around a hundred yards, before they run out of steam,” said Lee.

“But we literally prepared for everything. Even outrunning a crocodile!”