There are those who say that no amount of training can compare with experience on the battlefield. The UK’s Collective Training Transformation Programme (CTTP) aims to deliver a training system that will go as far as possible to disprove that notion.

Valued at £1bn ($1.41bn) over ten years, the CTTP will deliver a technology-enabled platform for collective training that will serve as a surrogate for warfare. It intends to provide the British Army with the capability to better replicate the complexity of the modern battlefield, no matter where in the world that battlefield might be.

While it will not deliver training in itself, the CTTP it will put in place the Future Collective Training System 2025 (FCTS), in which training will be delivered. At the heart of the new system are the exploitation of data and the ability to ensure connectivity, which will together deliver the flexibility required to create the widest possible range of training scenarios for the future.

“The Army’s existing collective training system is effective but will evolve and adapt to meet future threats,” explains Major Andrew Chalmers of the British Army’s Training Capability Branch. “The genesis of the CTTP was the [2017] Collective Training Review, which identified tangible risks and proposed transformational change to collective training. CTTP seeks to deliver transformation through digitalisation, data exploitation, better use of technology and modern synthetics.”

It will also create a different relationship with industry to provide training that prepares the Army for evolving complex threats and changing environments, increases team and individual learning, keeps pace with allies and stays ahead of adversaries. Progress towards these goals will be steady in the years ahead. CTTP is a long-term programme of development, though the system will be complete in 2025 and some capability will be brought forward from 2023 onwards. After the initial improvement of existing collective training over the next two years, there will be a transition period to the new platform, followed by continued development and improvement of the system from 2025 onwards.

At every step on that journey, there will be a concerted effort to better align collective training to regions of the world that will help to cement the UK’s joint and international partnerships, as well as increasing the Army’s responsiveness to future strategic demands and changing threats.

A framework for future warfare

CTTP will deliver a comprehensive framework for improved collective training focused on individual soldiers and the teams in which they operate. Through a process that allows soldiers to train, reflect, learn and train again, not only will their effectiveness improve, but also their own sense of competence and professional satisfaction. This is achieved by making training both more adversarial and more realistic, reflecting the complexities of 21st century warfare to develop an ingrained combat ethos.

“Transformation needs to include many things,” says Chalmers. “Among them is a fundamental and massive shift in the use of data to support all aspects of training, from individual learning through to assurance at formation level. Data will be used to improve learning and assurance, continually improve the training system, lessons, force development and management of training contracts.”

“Similarly, we need modern, massive simulations, which blend seamlessly the live environment, virtual simulations – deployable or in fixed locations – and constructive training,” he adds. “Simulations must be deeply immersive, where action and consequence are linked by artificial intelligence (AI) and played out in real-time or faster than real-time, and which form part of a defence and, potentially, cross-government or multinational single synthetic environment.”

In the new training paradigm, simulations will provide the scale and capacity needed to increasingly move training from the live environment to the synthetic, and will incorporate training systems that are globally deployable, providing the ability to train both on renewed Collective Training Establishments and on an expeditionary basis.

The CTTP will develop and implement FCTS 2025, delivering the transformation necessary to provide collective training that meets the UK’s future defence needs. FCTS will prepare forces to protect, engage, constrain and fight across multiple domains, above and below the threshold of conflict in combined, joint, intra-governmental, inter-agency and multinational (CJIIM) contexts.

“The FCTS will bring joint warfare into Army collective training by realistically replicating CJIIM contexts, multi-domain operations and Joint effects through comprehensively-modelled simulation and transformed instrumentation,” says Chalmers. “This will offer the Army increased opportunities to train in the pan-domain context, at all levels, while also creating opportunities for other services to train with the Army in the land environment.”

To create an inherently versatile, flexible and adaptable system, the Army’s collective training will be supported by modern synthetics and simulation, and will exploit data to empower individuals and commanders, and maximise effectiveness. To deliver the necessary efficiency, innovation, flexibility, responsiveness and adaptability, a closer relationship with industry is paramount.

“We need modern, massive simulations, which blend seamlessly the live environment, virtual simulations – deployable or in fixed locations – and constructive training.”


The cost of CTTP over 10 years.

Shephard Media

Industry engagement

Ultimately, training will be supported and, potentially, planned and delivered by industry. This will free-up military manpower and allow industry to drive constant innovation, efficiency and productivity. The aim is to deliver a training system that adapts as technology evolves, without the cost of ownership of obsolete systems. Currently, the Army is engaging technology partners in pathfinder projects, though the contract for delivery of the CTTP has not yet been tendered. Now, the goal is to explore a broad range of technologies, not least those that deliver data and connectivity.

“Ensuring that connectivity and data exploitation are at the heart of the new system will ensure flexibility for the future and provide the widest range of scenarios,” Chalmers explains.

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) will also be key technologies. VR creates a fully simulated artificial environment in which almost any scenario can be modelled. AR overlays data onto real-world situations to enhance the information an individual soldier can access or interact with.

“Soldiers in training will benefit from this immersive, complex, adversarial and realistic environment, which will evolve to keep pace with the changing character of warfare.”

“Project Synthetics will replace in-service collective training capabilities, including those that come into service 2020–25,” says Chalmers. “The totality generates a synthetic operating environment. Soldiers in training will benefit from this immersive, complex, adversarial and realistic environment, which will evolve to keep pace with the changing character of warfare. Such a training environment will encourage and empower commanders to innovate and experiment, while also supporting and inspiring a competitive and adaptive combat ethos.”

The single synthetic environment will provide multi-domain representation of the operating environment. It will be supported by a common constructive simulation to provide a consistent representation of entities within the synthetic world. Together, they will realistically represent effects across the political, military, economic, social, information, infrastructure, physical environment (PMESII-PT) spectrum.

“Blended reality technology will be exploited for virtual systems to generate immersion, replicating operational environments, capabilities, and effects not possible in live training,” says Chalmers. “Fixed sites will support battlegroup and brigade training. Instrumentation of live personnel, platforms and equipment, blended with virtual systems, will support realistic and challenging live training while providing objective data for training management and evaluation.”

“VR is one of the pathfinder projects within the synthetics scope,” Chalmers adds. “We do not envisage mass VR capability but an incorporation of the technology to supplement training. The aspiration is that the FCTS 2025 will deliver single synthetic environment capability for thousands of users simultaneously, therefore could exercise at significant scale, with a blend of live, virtual and constructive (LVC) training.”

One key area of projects within CTTP will be A3ES, which will deliver credible and dynamic forces and actors that represent the Future Operating Environment. A3ES comprises, firstly, ‘audiences’, to encapsulate the frictions of mass opinion and consensus, replicating relationships between groups and individual people and that delivers complexity beyond cause-effect. Secondly, it focuses on ‘actors’, representing individuals or groups from within the audience who directly exert influence on an operation, whether supportive, neutral or hostile. Thirdly, it features ‘adversaries’ posing hostile threats and seeking to prevent a force from achieving its objectives.

Also present will be ‘enemies’ opposing the force with armed lethal means. The training system will be able to represent regular, irregular and hybrid enemy threats, including chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) threats. Finally, a specialist service will provide support and guidance to both live players and exercise control. Together, these five factors will allow training to be scaled up in complexity in any environment or terrain.

“A3ES will be scalable, configurable and consistent across the LVC environments,” Chalmers notes. “It will test combat, combat support and combat service support capabilities to facilitate Army-wide collective training outcomes, rotational unit training objectives and the continual development of adaptive leaders.”

Overall, CTTP, and the FCTS for which it lays the ground, represent the most ambitious modernisation project in living memory for the British Army, and will pave the way for a new era of co-operation between defence forces and industry.