July 27, 2020 (by Yasuo Osakabe) - After 2 years of construction, what appears a large white box with cables now provides Yokota Air Base, Japan with a fully functional C-130J Super Hercules Weapons System Training simulator.
A view of the C-130J Weapon System Training simulator at Yokota AB, July 27, 2020. [USAF photo by Yasuo Osakabe]
"It's been a long time coming but this moment means so much for our training capability," said Lt. Col. Donavan Laskey, 374th Operations Support Squadron commander as he addressed the audience during the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new C-130J WST simulator, July 27, 2020.
With Yokota home to the sole tactical airlift squadron in the Pacific Air Forces, Yokota began transition from the C-130H Hercules to C-130J Super Hercules in 2017. A part of that transition from H model to J model included the installation of a C-130J Weapon System Training (WST) simulator, which is a full-motion cockpit flight simulator that is fully certified for aircrews to accomplish much of the same training usually accomplished in the aircraft.
"The simulator is primarily used to accomplish our required annual refresher training focused on aircraft emergency procedures and crew and cockpit resource management (CRM), which would be too dangerous or unpractical to do in the actual aircraft." said Maj. Christopher Wolff, 36th Airlift Squadron assistant director of operation.
While the simulator will provide aircrews a variety of real-world scenarios in a safe environment, the simulator is also a more budget friendly opportunity for pilots, loadmasters and maintainers to remain proficient in tactical airlift missions.
"The simulator will save the 374th Operations Group approximately $450,000 annually in personnel and travel costs by conducting the required training on site." Said Wolff. "Essentially, the C-130J WST simulator and the C-130J Super Hercules are one and the same, but with better cost savings and a safer way of doing things."
Another bonus of the newly operational simulator include the ability to recreate any flying environment or scenario.
"Some other benefits of the simulator are that it can replicate nearly any operating environment of the C-130J with unlimited variations of locations, weather, or time of day to facilitate whatever training is needed." said Wolff. "Aircrews, loadmasters, and maintainers can practice instrument procedures in a snowy environment in Alaska or combat operations in the heat of Afghanistan, regardless of time of year, and without having to leave Yokota."
It is that exact training flexibility that makes the C-130J WST an investment in the future of Yokota.
"This facility will be used to provide training to 150-200 pilots, loadmasters, and maintainers annually," said Col. Andrew Campbell, 374th Airlift Wing commander. "With that level of capability, this simulator is vital for the overall safety of our aircrews, proficiency of our team, and our readiness to respond to the needs of the Indo-Pacific region."