Blog: PhD Project - Effective Training Programmes for Military Pilots using Machine Learning with Real and Simulated Data

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Draken Fighter Jets

The Distributed Algorithms CDT works with Draken Europe to develop methods for creating realistic training programmes using data from both simulated and actual fighter jet missions.

Curious about data and how it can be used in real-world situations?

Are you interested and knowledgeable in machine learning tools such as Gaussian Processing and Bayesian Optimisation? Do you have an interest and enthusiasm for avionics and aerospace engineering training methods and development?

If so, the Distributed Algorithms CDT (DA CDT) has, in partnership with Draken Europe, a brand-new project for an enthusiastic and ambitious person who has a passion for working in innovative engineering within the Aerospace/Avionics industry on this exciting and innovative PhD.

Develop training models for fighter jets by using machine learning to identify suitable exercises

This fully-funded studentship (open to UK applicants only) will be co-supervised by our external partner Draken Europe using state of the art machine learning tools to disseminate data from a combination of live and synthetic training data from Draken’s own sources, using Bayesian Optimisation and Gaussian Process techniques which will be used to train fighter jet pilots for future potential engagements with adversary jets.

The aim of the project is to develop training models for articulating similarities between data from simulated and live training engagements, and to then integrate these models using Gaussian Processes and Bayesian Optimisation.

Machine learning tools and artificial intelligence at the heart of this project

The challenge is to understand how these machine learning algorithms can identify and exploit uncertainties associated with historic simulations and real-world data.  Due to the nature of the training exercises and the uncertainties they present, the hope is that artificial intelligence techniques, such as Bayesian Optimisation, will help identify which aspects of training exercises – be they real-world or simulation – to use during training exercises.

Become part of a data science community working on real-world problems

Research will take place within the DA CDT, based at the University of Liverpool, consisting of over 50 researchers, all working on real-world problems alongside non-academic partners.  The community also has access to state-of-the-art computing hardware at the University of Liverpool facilities and STFC Hartree and will undertake interdisciplinary cohort training at the Alan Turing Institute.

When I was searching for a PhD position, I was keen to join a CDT. I wanted to be part of a cohort and to have the opportunity to learn from others’ expertise and to share experiences and results.

Elinor Davies, Cohort 2 PhD student

Draken Europe and the Distributed Algorithms CDT

The successful student will be supervised by Colin Rebbettes, Chief Engineer at Draken Europe, Professor Jason Ralph, an expert in avionics and defence and security research, working alongside the MoD on various projects and a third supervisor, who will focus on future computing and implementation elements of the PhD.  Jason is also one of the lead Professors within the Signal Processing Research Group.  There will also be an opportunity to visit Draken and undertake a placement.

Colin from Draken Europe says…

“Draken Europe acts as a key part of the R&D cycle, forming a proving ground for technology in an engaged environment. We operate across multiple programmes, providing rapid technology development and demonstration with our coalition defence partners and contractors. We operate in an exciting arena, and numerous frontline personnel throughout NATO can attest for themselves just how capable we are at injecting synthetic and constructive threats into the live training environment. We’re really pleased to be sponsors of a PhD that offers a unique opportunity to help shape the future intersection of the live and synthetic training arenas, one of the most hotly discussed areas in the defence aerospace arena today.”

Professor Jason Ralph says…

“This project is an exciting opportunity for anyone who wants to research the operational limits of fast jets and to obtain an understanding the roles and missions that drive fast jet systems design. The PhD will allow you to develop advanced machine learning methods and gain experience in applying them to real aircraft systems. Draken are leaders in their field and, with the University, they will provide practical experience and underpinning operational support.”

Why should you apply for this PhD project?

The DA CDT’s vision is to train our PhD students to become future leaders in Distributed Algorithms meeting the needs of government, academia and industry, driven by the needs of industrial and governmental partners by exploring the challenges presented within the defence and security sector by enhancing their ability to develop and deliver high-performance products and services through the use of data-driven optimisation and high-performance computing efficiency.

Every CDT PhD offers:

  • Fully funded studentships
  • A generous stipend and personal training funds
  • Projects with industrial or governmental partners
  • Placement opportunities
  • Great employability links
  • An inclusive and supportive cohort environment
  • Technical and personal training and development programme
  • Access to state-of-the-art computing hardware

There are regular CDT and research-specific meetings to share progress and interests. The DA CDT also provides lots of training during the early stages of the PhD to help develop a good background knowledge and the skills we need to complete our research.

Ben, current DA CDT student

Want to know more details about the project?

If the work of Draken Europe and the CDT excites and motivates you and you believe you have a real desire to make a difference to the world in which we live, please submit an application form here or to speak to someone from the CDT, visit our website (linked below).

Further links & reading
DA CDT Website – review our research programme and the people we work with!
DA CDT PhD Projects in Progress – what type of projects are our current students working on?
DA CDT News – what have out students and researchers been up too?
Draken Website  - get up to speed with Draken’s missions!