The Bits and Bytes of Synthetic Terrain Representation

Soldier walking through forest terrain

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The key and universal truism linked to mission success is “Train as you Fight.” Realistic training is critical not only for mission success but for soldier survival.

The challenge is that live, realistic training is often expensive and time sensitive as the resources are finite and required by multiple units. To overcome the limitations of live training resources, the Army has developed and employed virtual, constructive, and gaming capabilities.

One such capability is the U.S. Army’s Synthetic Environment Core (SE Core), a Program of Record (POR) under the Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training & Instrumentation (PEO STRI). SE Core provides fully correlated, common, geospatial terrain databases; ultra-high resolution cultural and common moving visual models; Common Virtual Components (CVCs); and a common Computer Generated Forces (CGF) for Training Aids Devices Simulators and Simulations (TADSS).

SE Core is the Army’s central link for all common virtual environment requirements, helping to ensure that simulators and simulations correlate and interoperate across critical training platforms.

One critical aspect is the integration of new virtual terrain representations to align with current operational environments and missions. The Army has a requirement to quickly develop and integrate new and accurate digital terrain that corresponds with potential future missions. Fulfilling such a requirement is a fair amount of work and is very complex.

Mr. Thomas Kehr of PEO STRI and Mr. Trey Godwin of Strong Point Research, A Division of TAPE have investigated using Google Earth Pro to track and generate terrain representation requirements in order to produce higher-quality digital terrain products. Their paper, published in Army AL&T magazine, can be reached via the following link: