April 23, 2014 (by A1C Kedesha Pennant) - The 317th Airlift Group held a dedication ceremony for a new $26 million C-130J simulator on April 22, 2014.
U.S. Representative Randy Neugebauer speaks at the dedication ceremony for the new C-130J Super Hercules simulator o April 22, 2014, at Dyess AFB. Dyess is the first installation to receive this modern C-130J simulator with Vital-10 technology. [USAF photo by SSgt. Richard Ebensberger]
Dyess is the first installation to receive this modern C-130J simulator with Vital-10 technology. Vital-10 is an advanced visual display package with a higher resolution and a more realistic display.
"One great aspect about the simulator is that we can alter the location, weather, variables, altitude and threats on the spot," said Maj. Seth Schwesinger, 317th Operations Support Squadron chief of group training. "It gives us the flexibility to pause at a certain point to provide instruction, rewind the scenario and try it again."
The cost to run the simulator is an estimated $850 an hour, a savings of $1,500 compared to an approximated flying cost of $2,300 an hour, which will allow the 317th Airlift Group to save an approximate $3 million annually. Additionally, the simulator will save the 317th Airlift Group approximately $400,000 annually in personnel and travel costs by conducting required training onsite.
The new simulator is a proven tool used to build and maintain operator proficiency in the aircraft throughout multiple mission sets, including those not readily available during local flying, Schwesinger said.
Essentially, the C-130J simulator and the C-130J are one in the same, but with better cost savings and a safer way of doing things, Schwesinger added.
"We also have the ability to compound elements into a training scenario in a safe environment that mimics the aircraft," Schwesinger said. "This gives instructors the capacity to monitor training to enhance the learning of the aircrews."
One of the benefits of the simulator is being able to train in scenarios you wouldn't want to do on an actual aircraft.
"Other than off-station missions, local training was limited to the Dyess area, which is flat and can have unpredictable weather patterns," Schwesinger said. "The simulator allows us to be put in any location to train in high-pressure altitude operations with high temperatures to see how the aircraft performs with these different variables added to the training scenario."
The simulator is also capable of different tactical training scenarios, including specific threat generators, which instructors are able to place along certain locations of a route.
"These threat generators can actually fire at us, and we have to react in accordance to our predetermined parameters," Schwesinger said. "It gives the instructor the ability to cage those parameters to see how well the aircrew reacted and decide if they successfully engaged or escaped the threat correctly."
With these capabilities, the simulator has the option to "damage" or "shut down" the aircraft if the aircrew didn't successfully react using the prescribed tactics.
"Aircrews have an additional factor to deal with in crew resource management to solve a threat and a tactical situation with a lack of resources presented in an emergency training scenario," Schwesinger said.
There are foreseeable advantages of the new simulator compared to the older version as well as the aircraft.
"The inherent capability of the simulator is that it offers repeated training opportunities, which offers a cost benefit without wasting fuel, manpower or maintenance," said Maj. Will Soto, 317th OSS director of operations.
Other C-130J units will be able to use the new simulator to benefit from the advantages as well.
"Ever since we've fully transitioned from the H to the J model, we have been waiting for the new simulator to augment our training," Soto said. "We're very happy to have it, not only for the 317th AG, but the entire C-130J community."
The new C-130J simulator has incurred high expectations from the C-130 community to benefit both Dyess and the Air Force with increased usage.
"It's an awesome capability that allows us a lot of flexibility to execute our tactical missions downrange as well as our local missions," Schwesinger said. "It will greatly improve overall aircrew training."