OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. --
A new aircrew training device is being built as part of an effort to replace the three ATDs destroyed in the March flood.
Following the flood, the 645th Aeronautical Systems Squadron, also known as Big Safari, located in Greenville, Texas, began gathering the parts and equipment needed to provide a replacement ATD for the 55th Wing.
The new simulator will be housed outside the flood area within the bowels of Building D, inside a refurbished sensitive compartmented information facility.
Since these ATDs were damaged, the 55th Operations Group had to place students on temporary duty and send them to train in Texas with the 645th AESS as well as at their geographically separated units at Royal Air Force Mildenhall, England, and Kadena Air Base, Japan. In addition, the RAF also provided opportunities at Waddington, England.
In addition to Greenville and Waddington, the base has also used On-the-Ground-Trainers to provide some ground-based hands-on training for a number of system training requirements.
“The restoration of training directly impacts the wing’s ability to project air power around the globe, which made this one of the 55th Wing commander’s number one priorities,” said Capt. Eric Nelson, 55th Wing Project Management Office Next Generation current operations chief. “There are some facets of training and readiness that cannot be completed during in-flight events and can only be replicated with this simulator.”
This new simulator is needed in aiding Team Offutt members to perform initial, requalification and continuation training in an organized environment. Additionally the simulator will restore the ability to partake in numerous multi-organizational exercises.
“With the limited number of RC-135V/W aircraft at Offutt, we need these ATDs in order to complete training and complete mandatory currencies,” Nelson said. “The ATDs allow more aircraft to be performing missions around the globe because they are not required to be at Offutt for training.”
During the construction of the new ATD, the 338th Combat Training Squadron, the largest training school in Air Combat Command, was forced to switch all training done on the simulator to OGTs and flights. This placed a strain on flying resources and the individuals managing them. The 55th OG has requested relief from global tasking in order to help meet their training needs.
It will cost the Air Force $234 million to replace the three ATDs and other equipment that support the Rivet Joint mission. While replacing all equipment that was lost will likely take multiple years to complete, Offutt will be able to restore some functionality with the simulator currently being installed. The new simulator install will take a total of about four months to finish.
“This is a lightning fast install when you consider the construction, SCIF certification, new communications lines, security installation and that the system had to be wired from scratch,” Nelson said. “All the parts were spare ATD supplies from squadrons around the world, i.e., our squadrons in the United Kingdom and Japan.”
The completion date is projected to be at the end of September.