Tuesday, February 17, 2009

81st Fighter Squadron Receives Simulator Upgrades

by Staff Sgt. Logan Tuttle
52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

2/17/2009 - SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany -- The 81st Fighter Squadron recently received a new A-10 Thunderbolt simulator along with upgrades to their only other simulator from Boeing.

The project cost approximately $ 4.5 million, and took a team from Boeing 12 days to set up, from the time they arrived here, to the time the new unit and upgrades were completed.

"The [equipment] was shipped to us from Mesa, Ariz. It was in 23 crates, and took up an entire airplane," said Andy Gilbert, the project lead from Boeing. "We've had excellent support from the unit as far as getting forklifts and stuff we needed."

The benefits of the upgrades include a better visibility database, the ability to see the wings of the plane, new software and moving map capabilities. The two simulators can now fly together for two-ship missions, as well as hook up and fly with other simulators anywhere in the world, over a distributed mission network.

Mr. Gilbert said one of the biggest improvements made are the volumetric clouds, which give the simulators the ability to provide adverse weather conditions similar to what pilots at Spangdahlem could experience.

Capt. Papa Roche, one of the pilots who tested the upgrades, felt that having the 360-degree screen was one of the most noticeable differences. Although you can never replace flying in a real aircraft, he said, the simulators function accurately and he thinks they'll see a significant increase in the amount the simulators are used.

1st Lt. Patrick Parrish, another pilot who tested the new simulator said it would be useful to add to the pilot's training as a supplement to real flying, especially for practicing emergency procedures.

"The simulators give pilots the ability to practice, they simulate everything without the cost and time to put the airplane in the air, and the [simulator]is more forgiving," said Mr. Gilbert.


Capt. Papa Roche, an A-10 pilot with the 81st Fighter Squadron, tests a new A-10 simulator on February 6th, 2009. This is the second 81st FS simulator. Boeing sent a team to install the new simulator and vital software upgrades for both systems. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Nicholas Wilson) Hi-res

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