Story and photos by Staff Sgt. Kirby Turbak
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Every day the U.S. Air Force becomes more accurate and advanced to make sure the mission is accomplished. They do this by innovating, managing equipment, reducing manpower, and reducing cost.
Members of the 86th Vehicle Readiness Squadron at Ramstein Air Base, are doing exactly that by acquiring a new driving simulator to train Airmen that aren’t familiar with German roads and weather conditions.
The simulator was purchased with funds from the 2019 Squadron Innovation Fund award.
The 86th VRS is responsible for operating and maintaining a variety of government-owned vehicles such as military vehicles, pickup trucks, police cars, transport vehicles, and special-purpose vehicles.
“Before the simulator, whenever we got new Airmen, we’d take them out on the road and get them familiar with the vehicle,” said Master Sgt. Daniel Moffett, 86th VRS noncommissioned officer in charge of training validation and operations. “Then we conducted the actual driving portion where they would get in the vehicle, drive around the base and drive around the highway as well.”
The old process took more time, resources, fuel, and added maintenance cost from more wear and tear to the vehicles.
“This is a more timely and effective way to train, as opposed to actually having to go out, check out and operate a vehicle for hours on the road,” said Tech. Sgt. Nicholas Lindke, 86th VRS training validation and operations supervisor. “They can get that familiarization training completed within the confines of this building. I’d say that is one of the biggest benefits. It’s going to end up saving a lot of man hours.”
The simulator helps safely prepare Airmen for less than ideal road conditions and possible vehicle failures they could face.
“The simulator provides a plethora of different tools built into the program that allows us to put them in different scenarios, whether it be fog, snow, or other conditions that they’re going to be facing yearly, here at Ramstein,” said Moffett. “In addition to that, we have the capability to do blow outs to the vehicle tires, create accidents, and add situational events where they have to react quickly.”
With sensors throughout the simulator, including the gear stick, instructors are able to get better feedback on how to help new Airmen be proficient vehicle operators.
By gaining more time and resources members of the 86th VRS are able to certify new Airmen quicker and keep the mission rolling on.
“This will help us get them better prepared to operate the vehicles and get certified with little to no failures, which is the ultimate goal,” said Moffett.