Orlando-based companies secure billions in contracts involving modeling, simulation and training (MS&T).

F-35 Full Mission Simulator
Lockheed Martin F-35 Full Mission Simulator. Photo Courtesy of Lockheed Martin.

One of the major reasons that Orlando is recognized as the Modeling, Simulation & Training (MS&T) capital of the world is because its companies secure billions in military and defense contracts involving these technologies. On an annual basis, $6 billion in modeling, training and simulation contracts flow through the region – many commissioned for the Army, Air Force and Navy simulation command centers, which are stationed in Orlando.

Due to the cluster in simulation and defense, the region is home to top players including Lockheed MartinRaytheon, and Northrop Grumman, just to name a few. And thanks to organizations like the National Center for Simulation and TEAM Orlando, the region is an ambitious playground for collaboration between academic institutions, business partners and military defense organizations.

Some significant highlights of 2020 MS&T contracts in the Orlando region include:

  • Longbow LLC, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp. and Northrop Grumman Corp., won a $164 million U.S. Army contract for Apache helicopter radar development work, the Department of Defense (DoD) announced Sept. 3. All work will take place in Orlando.
  • Lockheed Martin won a $935 million defense deal to provide equipment, autonomic logistics information system hardware, training systems, site activations and contractor support for the F-35 Lightning II, the DoD announced July 17, 2020.
  • Cubic Corp. won a $99 million, five year defense contract from the U.S. Navy to develop a virtual environment training system for the Navy as part of its Surface Training Immersive Gaming and Simulations program.
  • L3 Harris Technologies Inc. landed a $900 million, ten year contract to design and deploy common platforms and standards across the Air Force’s array of training simulators. 
  • Northrop Grumman was awarded a $27.6 million modification to a U.S. Navy contract to add new systems to E-2D Advanced Hawkeye Aircraft, with roughly 23 percent of the work being performed in Melbourne.
  • Northrop Grumman won a $7.3 million modificiation from the Department of Defense to provide 56 laser designators to be used for targeting in a sensor system in the U.S. Army’s Eagle Gray unmanned aircraft. All of the work will take place in the company’s Apopka facility.
  • Raytheon announced a $30 million U.S. Army National Guard deal to support training events on June 10. The defense firm has supported this training program since 2016, and the contract extends its work on the program to October.  
  • The joint venture between General Dynamics Corp. and Raytheon, Range Generation Next, was awarded a $13.9 million modification to a U.S. Space Force contract for testing and maintaining launch ranges. The contract will be performed at two locations, one of which is Patrick Air Force Base in Brevard County in June 2020.
  • Raytheon announced June 2 a $113 million Army contract to train U.S soldiers deployed to the Middle East. The three-year long contract includes live and virtual training programs and supplies for exercises that’ll take place in the Middle East. 
  • Lockheed Martin Corp. landed a U.S. Air Force contract worth up to $485 million, the DoD announced May 18, to provide three hardware systems: Sniper Advanced Targeting Pods; Infrared Search and Track (IRST); and Low Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared for Night.
  • Orlando-based simulation company Dignitas Technologies was awarded an $8.7 million U.S. Army contract, the DoD announced May 18. The contract is to provide technical and management support for the Program Executive Office for simulation, training and instrumentation — the Army’s Orlando-based headquarters for simulation-related acquisitions. 
  • Orlando-based AVT Simulation Inc. won a $3.2 million U.S. Air Force contract to design and prototype Heavies Communication Navigation Avionics Trainers. AVT’s design will provide an updated trainer for heavy aircraft systems, as the existing ones are based on 1960s technology, according to an AVT press release.
  • Raytheon announced May 12 a $145 million three-year U.S. Army deal to train Afghanistan Air Force pilots. The firm will provide classroom, rotary aircraft and fixed-wing aircraft training for the pilots, who will be taught at schools in Europe and the Middle East. 

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Another reason that many simulation and training companies choose to operate in Orlando is the proximity to the University of Central Florida (UCF), the one of the nation’s largest universities that houses a top ranked engineering school. In addition, UCF’s Institute for Simulation and Training works closely with Orlando’s defense cluster and military partners, providing a steady talent pool necessary for companies taking on large government contracts.

The world’s largest MS&T conference I/ITSEC chooses Orlando to host nearly 15,000 industry, academia and government attendees each year. Over 400 companies will exhibit at I/ITSEC, over 20 percent of which have a business presence in Orlando.