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.

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Some significant highlights of 2021 MS&T contracts in the Orlando region include:

  • In February 2021, Lockheed Martin won a $428 million contract to deliver Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles. Work will take place in Orlando, and it will finish by July 31, 2025. Lockheed also won a $414 million contract for Long Range Anti-Ship Missiles, along with tooling and test equipment for the missiles. Work will happen in Orlando and Troy, Alabama, and will wrap up by March 21, 2025. U.S. Navy funds also are part of this contract.
  • Melbourne-based Tomahawk Robotics landed a $4.1 million contract with the U.S. Marine Corps, which will generate work at the company in 2021 and 2022. The award is for the Marine Corps’ Radio Agile Integrated Device program, meant to provide the military branch with a common way to control unmanned systems in the air and on the ground. 
  • The Department of Defense’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center team, which oversees procurement for the experimental program Tradewind, relocated to Central Florida Research Park in July 2021.
  •  Applied Visual Technology Inc. (known as AVT Simulation), Dignitas Technologies LLC and Engineering & Computer Simulations Inc. were selected among seven firms to work on a U.S. Navy contract worth $127 million. The contract is for work to support current training systems and develop new systems for the U.S. Marine Corps, which operates as part of the Department of the Navy. The contract mentions marksmanship, combat vehicle training and combat convoys among the areas included in the scope of the training work.
  • Orlando-headquartered JIRACOR was awarded an $2.4M contract from the Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division (NAWCTSD) in November 2021 to purchase, delivery, installation, setup and test of commercial items configured into the Multi-Mission Surface Combatant (MMSC) -Virtual Shipboard Training System (VSTS) training facility. The company was also awarded the Demilitarization of the Integrated Avionics Trainers and P-3 Updated Training Devices located in Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville, FL, from the NAWCTSD in September.

Source: Orlando Business Journal

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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 school for aerospace and defense graduates (Aviation Week, 2015-2020). 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. At I/ITSEC 2021, one in three exhibitor booths featured companies with operations in the seven county Orlando region.