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Virtual training center leverages enhanced warfighter capabilities

Airmen and civilians stand outside the  grad opening of the U.S. Warfare Center Virtual Test and Training Center to cut a ribbon.

Col. Dean Caldwell (center), U.S. Warfare Center Virtual Test and Training Center (VTTC) director, cuts a ribbon during the opening of the VTTC building at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, Aug. 17, 2020. The VTTC is a center designed to permit live and virtual environments to train simultaneously, enabling more realistic and effective training while mitigating the constraints of a physical range. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Dwane Young)

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. --

The Air Force relies on forward-thinking Airmen who are constantly thinking of ways to innovate, refine or improve processes and technology in a way that can modernize the service and its tactics.

Nellis Airmen have heard, and answered, that call, and so with the snip of a ribbon, on Aug. 17 the Virtual Test and Training Center here officially moved one step closer to housing the future of joint-aerial combat training.

The VTTC is a training center that will enable pilots to simultaneously train together in live and virtual environments. The experience is intended to make for more realistic and effective training while mitigating the constraints of a physical range.

“It’s a significant step forward to enable testing tactics development and advanced training for the Air Force, joint and coalition partners,” said Peter Zupas, U.S. Air Force Warfare Center operational training and test infrastructure analyst.

The first missions to be conducted at the VTTC are scheduled to begin around spring or summer of 2021.

“In the next year or so we will officially have it up and running,” said Col. Dean Caldwell, the USAFWC VTTC director. “The VTTC will then be turned into a squadron and be placed under the Nevada Test and Training Range.”

Caldwell said the capabilities within the VTTC will span beyond platform-specific counterterrorism and live-fire exercises, incorporating multi-domain and near-peer threats across air, space and cyber domains.

Additionally, the ability to connect live and virtual training environments will reduce the need for numerous aircraft and crew to travel to a singular location. In doing so, this reduces fiscal burden for the force.

“The VTTC is a great complimentary piece to live-fly sorties,” said Zupas. “It will allow personnel to increase the number of sorties that otherwise wouldn’t be regularly available to them in live fly. However, simulators are no substitute for live-fly operations.”

Creating the VTTC was no simple task. The hard work put into constructing the VTTC will not only help today’s warfighters, but increase the lethality of warfighters for generations to come.

“It takes several teams and a lot of work to get something like this done,” said Caldwell. “I expect this building here will provide great readiness training for the warfighter and ultimately take care of business.”