The 86th Airlift Wing held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the completion of its new C-130J Super Hercules Flight Simulator Aug. 24 on Ramstein.
The project is the result of a collaborative effort, as the simulator itself is owned by Air Mobility Command but housed in a U.S. Air Forces in Europe and 86th Airlift Wing building.
“A big thank you goes to … the collaborative effort,” said Col. Eric Mayheu, AMC Aircrew Operations and Training Division chief. “This has been an ongoing project for the past seven years. This design, this building, this device and everything else that needs to come online took seven years to be able to have what you have here.”
The new facility is expected to save USAFE approximately $250,000 a year in temporary duty costs as it will alleviate the need for pilots to be sent back to the U.S. to train on simulators. Additionally, it will save the pilots two or three days of travel time, effectively freeing them up for availability for combatant command commanders, should the need arise, said Mayheu.
Money and time saved aren’t the only benefits of the multimillion dollar simulator.
“To be able to practice a high-density, high-difficulty mission in, quite frankly, a low-threat environment here gives a feeling of confidence as you go into battle,” said Brig. Gen. Jon T. Thomas, 86th AW commander. “As a crew member, when you’ve (practiced a maneuver) 10 times already and when you actually get a threat, (this experience) is priceless.”
The simulator will increase the readiness of everyone involved by giving additional feedback, Thomas said. It will also allow maintenance personnel to practice engine-run training and memorization with the cockpit for integration with flightline operations.
“For me, it’s a particular honor and pleasure to be standing here today because the seven years ago that (Col. Mayheu) referred to, I was the 86th Operations Group commander,” Thomas said. “This is exactly what we were hoping for, the day we would have our very own weapons system trainer here at Ramstein Air Base to do all the things it allows you to do.”