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Training for future, today

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Codie Collins
  • 19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The C-130J schoolhouse, located at Little Rock AFB, is the U. S. Air Force’s Formal Training Unit for C-130J aircrew and maintenance personnel. C-130J Maintenance and Aircrew Training System, or MATS, provide ground based academic and simulator lessons for warfighters.

The Center of Excellence at Little Rock Air Force Base uses simulators to prepare Airmen for the future of Combat Airlift today.

A SIM is a machine which provides a realistic imitation of an aircraft and is used for training purposes.

 “Our simulators completely immerse our students,” said Derrick Ball, C-130J MATS site manager, “The SIMS are designed to be so realistic, when a student training to be a pilot has completed their training, they are certified to fly on a real C-130J aircraft.”

Each SIM at Little Rock AFB has different capabilities and each plays a vital role in training aircrew to deliver unrivaled Global Combat Airlift.

 “Not only can we conduct day and night missions in the SIMS, we can simulate personnel air drops, equipment air drops and search and rescue missions,” Ball said. “The SIMS can imitate the different locations, terrain and communication settings of deployable locations. We equip students to be prepared for every situation.”

Courses in the past consisted of Airmen, who have never operated an aircraft, working directly on the flightline with a C-130 aircraft. If a mistake was made, the repercussions could have been fatal.

“The SIMS provide a hands on experience and you are allowed to make a mistake,” said Kent Gordon, Maintenance and Aircrew Training deputy lead loadmaster. “In the simulator, if something goes wrong, we can press a reset button and everything will stop. We can reset the SIM to the moment where the student made a mistake and then fix that mistake. In the aircraft you definitely can’t do that.”

In addition to allowing pilots and loadmasters to make risk free mistakes, the SIMS can also imitate dangerous situations.

“With this technology, we are able to simulate stalls and falls in an aircraft,” Ball said. “It can enable the students to feel, hear and understand warning signs that a C-130J is malfunctioning.”

Simulators contribute to the total mission of tactical combat airlift in more ways than one. Pilots and loadmasters can train in house, without disrupting the flight line

“Every aircraft has a life cycle,” said Ball. “Every SIM mission we do here, is one they don’t have to do in that air frame. The cost of operating a SIM versus operating an actual aircraft is significantly lower. Overall, less money is spent and a C-130J has a longer life cycle.”

Without the training SIMS provide, students taking courses at Little Rock AFB’s FTU for C-130Js would have less experience and less knowledge of an actual C-130J aircraft, Ball explained.