The British Army’s 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (1 Mercian), the Salisbury-based unit specialised in urban warfare, has taken delivery of a revolutionary Inflatable Walls Training System (IWTS). It is the first ever UK reference for the technology developed to create temporary urban structures for use in combat training exercises.

Survitec supplied the battalion with the Intermediate Military Package, which can be used to recreate urban structures with up eight differently sized rooms.

The flexibility of the system allows different tactical challenges to be presented to trainees that can evolve to deliver a wide variety of training objectives. The modularity of the system ensures more wall sections can be added to construct larger and more complex structures.

Martin Beagan, Defence & Aerospace Sales Manager, Survitec, explained that the battalion approached Survitec independently having seen earlier incarnations of the modular system being used by other armies around the world to train their personnel.

“As defence budgets continue to fall under increasing scrutiny, the IWTS provides a cost effective, innovative and future-proof solution capable of providing enhanced training for urban conflict or protection,” he said. 

“Typically, urban warfare training is carried out using static structures which can be very expensive to set up. These facilities also require transportation to and from the training location, so use of IWTS can be very cost effective, not least in reducing transportation costs and training time. The system is completely portable, allowing personnel to transport and build temporary structures wherever suits the training requirement. Unlike static structures, IWTS can be easily adapted so that personnel don’t get use to the layout of a particular building,” added Beagan.

Major Martyn Chatterley, Quartermaster 1 Mercian, said: “1 Mercian is the lead unit for Urban Dawn, a series of exercises exploring the use of new technology to fight and win in the urban environment.  Based on our experience we found that IWTS empowers soldiers at all levels to enhance their skills in a safe environment.  With this system our soldiers will benefit hugely from a portable training environment that is quick and easy to set up, and can be quickly changed to suit any specific operation.”

1 Mercian and three other affiliated regiments will use IWTS, although Survitec hopes that the UK MoD will specify the equipment for use throughout the UK armed forces.

Beagan said: “The Survitec technology is currently used by military and civilian forces in USA, Germany, Belgium, Austria, Italy, Japan and Hong Kong and we have recently been contracted to supply 50 IWTS to the Andersen Air Force Base, in Guam. It has huge benefits as it is portable and vastly more cost-effective than static training systems.”

Charles Bagshaw, Survitec Category Manager – Land, said: “As a former British Army Officer, I am very aware of the physical and mental demands urban operations place on all levels of command. The use of this system will enable the soldiers of 1 Mercian and other battalions to train more frequently, harder and more realistically, developing the tactics required to fight and win in these demanding environments.”

With its flatpack design, storage and easy transportation, IWTS is highly suited to military and law enforcement as it can be deployed to wherever a unit is based and reconfigured to create different layouts. A complete 9m x 20m structure takes about 90 minutes to erect using electric- or petrol-powered air pumps.

Waterproof, UV-resistant and in manufactured in an ISO9001 / Aerospace approved facility, IWTS can be used with adapted non-lethal training ordnance for use in simulated environments. However, Survitec is looking at introducing a targeting system to afford a more realistic combat environment.

“The system’s low logistic footprint and simplicity allow it to be used in barracks, on UK and overseas training areas, and in support of deployed overseas training teams. As a UK company, we are proud to be supporting 1 Mercian and hope to be able to support the wider UK MOD,” added Bagshaw.

Survitec manufactures, markets and distributes the system under a licence agreement signed with Battlefield Sim Limited in March 2018. Since then, Survitec have introduced a number of product improvements and expanded sales in the USA, Europe and Asia.

Survitec is exhibiting at the DSEI event at Booth S10-310, Excel Exhibition Centre, London, from the 10th to 13th September.