Virtual weapons cost Defence 12 times more than real ones

A press release from Meggitt Training Systems today has put a dollar value on ‘virtual’ EF88 weapons used on Defence’s Weapon Training Simulation Systems.

CAPTION: An Australian sailor shoots a ‘virtual’ EF88 on the Weapons Training Simulation System (WTSS) at Robertson Barracks near Darwin, NT. US Marine Corps photo (cropped) by Lance Corporal Natalie Greenwood. We could find no ADF photos of this equipment in use.

The press release says Meggitt has been awarded a US$1.8 million contract for 73 additional BlueFire® EF88 assault rifle wireless virtual weapons to be used by the ADF on its WTSS ranges.

Since this is a contract for weapons additional to an earlier main contract (in which project overheads are included), this contract cost should give a fair indication of the purchase price of individual weapons.

At today’s exchange rate, US$1.8million for 73 weapons brings the cost of each weapon to a whopping US$24,657 = AU$37,260 each.

The best we could come up with for a price on a real EF88 was reports that there were apparently, long-term and serious plans by “Lithgow Arms USA” to make and sell real EF88/F90 Atrax rifles in the American civilian market for sub US$2000, or AU$3017 at today’s exchange rate – about 12 time less than the virtual EF88.

We sincerely hope soldiers appreciate the value of this equipment when they’re using it.

 

BTW: The 73 weapons mentioned in today’s press release are in addition to the “development and ongoing delivery of 533 BlueFire EF88 simulators”.

BTW2: According to The Firearms Blog and others, Lithgow Arms got cold feet on “ethical grounds” about selling assault rifles to American civilians.

BTW3: As we understand it, these new ‘virtual’ weapons communicate with the WTSS system wirelessly and the gas needed to operate the mechanicals of the firing system is stored in the magazine. Thus, the weapons have no physical tether to the system, giving the user a more realistic weapon-handling experience. For those who don’t know WTSS, the weapons in the original system were connected via a harness of wires and gas tubes, which affected realistic feel and handling.

 

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Brian Hartigan

Managing Editor Contact Publishing Pty Ltd PO Box 3091 Minnamurra NSW 2533 AUSTRALIA

16 thoughts on “Virtual weapons cost Defence 12 times more than real ones

  • 06/06/2020 at 8:55 am
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    I enjoyed your article. As in everything there is a negitive and a positive side. The same goes with the WTSS and a live firing range.

    As a soldier I always loved going to the range and putting live rounds down range but the short fall spend alday at the range for one or two shoots. on the otherhand a WTSS is close and can practice as long as you like as long as you got a booking so you can spend more time actually firing the weapon and getting the skills. As for the costing I was amazed at the difference but that money would be saved from other areas so again a negitive and a positive.

    Reply
  • 04/06/2020 at 11:23 am
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    I was disapponted by the article. The cost of the simulators is approx 10 times more than a live weapon, and it did highlight that it would be cheaper to use live rounds, or is it???. What the article should have highlighted is the feedback that is provided in the WTSS to the firer, butt pressure, trigger squeeze, angle of cant, etc that cannot be provided on a live fire range. Defence estimates that $200M has been saved compared to firing all natures of live ammunition and weapon types available in the WTSS over the last 12 months. I would expect that this value does not include lost down time for travelling to and from the range and the addtional safety precautions required. I do not deny that nothing can replace firing live rounds, but the training benefits and coaching that can be provided in the WTSS will lead to better shooting of live rounds.
    I am sure that everyone would appreciate Greater investigation is conducted to provide a thorough article that just doesn’t highlight a supposed poor purchase by Defence.

    Reply
    • 04/06/2020 at 12:12 pm
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      Hi Chris. While your criticism of this article is respectfully written (unlike some others), I think it’s unfair in so far as what you are asking me to do is complete an indepth, investigative-journalism expose on the entire comparison between two major training elements. I think that would be a valid (and very interesting) exercise, but it is completely unreasonable to expect that level of output to come from me on this or any other occasion.
      The objective of this article was to highlight one simple fact (that was sent to me by way of a press release (from a company, not Defence) announcing a sale) – the one simple fact that real weapons appear to be 12 times cheaper to buy that virtual weapons – which I found very interesting.
      I did not criticise, or compare or judge – I simply stated a fact.
      However, the level of general criticism and reaction to this simple article indicates that maybe if opened a can of worms – and, “me thinks the readers doth protest too much”.
      But, I’m not going to do the indepth article you suggest. First of all, CONTACT is a one-man-band (cranky old vet with PTSD etc etc etc) with not resources to undertake that level of digging. Second, if I cop this much (mostly negative) reaction for a simple, factual, one-point article, what sort of shit-storm am I likely to encounter if I really got into it. And three, there is zero information available about recent WTSS upgrades. Do a Google search and see how much you can come up with. Zero mentions in ARMY Newspaper. Zero press releases. Zero photographs on the Defence web site (I cropped the Navy dude out of the bottom corner of a US Marine Corps pic).
      If Defence wants me and or the world to know how great the WTSS is, I’m all ears. But I ain’t going bashing my head against a brick wall to tell the stories they want me to tell.
      Have a look here to get an idea of how helpful and cooperative (and frustrating) Army PR really is – https://www.contactairlandandsea.com/2019/01/31/quick-trip-to-canberra-to-meet-deputy-chief-of-army/
      Here’s my bottom line on your criticism – why should I do greater investigation, when Defence does zero PR-ing?

      Reply
  • 01/06/2020 at 10:24 pm
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    While some sims have positives and negatives. I personally see the demonising skills of the soldier in training for higher ranks, LCPL to CPL and CPL to SGT.
    The entire training continuum begins to fall down with the introduction of the WTTS. Beginning from troops to task within the section through to the Q-Store. Booking ranges, ordering bullets, ordering targetry, coordinations between unit/sub units and range control staff. The actual conduct of the range practices to be fired. Then the entire reversal of the processes returning range stores, refurbishment of the range complex, return of brass which in turn has the Q-Staff actually completing their required tasks within the sequence of events, the transport section completing the requirements of their tasking ect ect. All of the required tasks are fundamental to training across the board and those are the areas the training establishments focus on and fail good soldiers for shit administration which has been eroded since the inception of the WTSS!
    I could be wrong however, after a couple of postings at these training establishments it’s true.
    As for the Cost of WTSS why do we need a civilian contractor to operate and dictate terms to defence. Soldiers are paid 24/7 – 365/per year.
    Get the contractors out employ more soldiers that have fixed costs that don’t hinge on a contract that fluctuates when some fool sneezes about a minor change. Start with removing shit base security contractors, Mess staff/catering staff Cooks and Stewards etc. bring back the customs and traditions of the real Navy/Army and AirForce to our Beautiful Countries Military.
    Utilise our Engineers, Assault Pioneers for local and State tasking on Government Roads and Housing and Community tasking within training areas.
    Well that’s my two bobs worth I might be too old school for cool in this shit PC palace which has come into being in the last 15 years by the bullshit empire building political arse kisses. But hey I got that shit off my chest!
    Thanks for the outlet old mate top site/page

    Reply
  • 01/06/2020 at 10:08 pm
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    Wouldn’t this make a lot of sense as a training tool? Without knowing more about it, it sounds very similar to MILES (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multiple_integrated_laser_engagement_system) which lets soldiers actively fire and maneouver realistically without the risk of injury. They can drill their techniques and tactics in a realistic fashion, then debrief about what went wrong or right. If they are able to communicate hits and misses, then it would be an extraordinary training tool.

    Reply
  • 01/06/2020 at 10:43 am
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    Approx < .50cents per round from ADI , one rifle can be used for its intended purpose any where in the world and one cant

    Reply
    • 02/06/2020 at 5:50 pm
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      Simply put contractors are cheaper then soldiers; as there significant on costs for FTE and Simulation is cheaper than Live Fire Combined Arms Exercises.

      I think you will find Simulation in whatever form it takes is here to stay my learned colleagues oh and you to Brian you Irish ☘️ Git!

      CVM

      Reply
  • 01/06/2020 at 7:12 am
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    FAKE NEWS- Get your facts and data and costings right!

    Both types of Shooting are required in the current and future battlespace and under the new Combat Markmanship Continuum.

    VIRTUAL SHOOTING and LIVE FIRE SHOOTING are on the same Training Continuum!

    Pull yourself out of Primordial Swamp you Neanderthal and get current and make your publication relevant.

    Reply
    • 01/06/2020 at 10:06 am
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      If you are going to refute my argument, I’d be very happy for you to do so with logic and facts.
      Resorting to personal abuse not only demonstrates that you have no argument, but proves that perhaps you are the one whose knuckles have scars.
      Since this is my web site not yours, I could simply delete you – but I’ll just leave this here so others can be swayed (or amused?) by your ‘superior’ argument.

      Reply
        • 02/06/2020 at 1:10 am
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          Thank you Glenn

          Reply
    • 03/06/2020 at 8:43 am
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      I’m not.

      It was an misinformed illogical piece of media sensationalism to push his pathetic little rag of magazine for the fringe dwellers of “in my day”.
      Get current or get off the web.

      CL

      Reply
      • 03/06/2020 at 9:29 am
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        Or, how about this idea – you can get off my site and take your fake troll name with you. It isn’t compulsory for you to be here.

        Reply
        • 03/06/2020 at 5:48 pm
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          Naaaah think I stay longtime . I’m enjoying it.

          Reply
  • 31/05/2020 at 5:44 pm
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    What’s the cost of laser bullets vs real ones?

    I would fully expect the acquisition cost of simulators to be higher than the acquisition costs of most real equipment, because the business case for simulators is always built on the nearly complete absence of marginal costs for use. Put another way, would the Army have benefited more from buying an extra $24,000 in rounds of F1 ball (say, for argument’s sake, an extra 75,000 rounds) instead of each simulator?

    It’s impossible to say for sure, but it’s hard to see how it would make sense in the long run.

    Reply

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