Aspiring and current aircrews and maintainers of C-130 aircraft in the US and in other nations benefit frrom new technologies and other training enablers, reports Group Editor Marty Kauchak.
The C130 is ubiquitous. All told, Lockheed Martin has delivered 2,446 C-130s (models A, B, E, H (including 115 L-100 variants) and J) to customers in 63 nations; with C-130s flying under the flag of 65 countries.
This July, Lockheed Martin noted that 15 nations from around the globe had ordered 337 of its C-130J Super Hercules aircraft and Stephanie Sonnenfeld Stinn, a corporate program spokesperson, added that Lockheed Martin had delivered 292.
While the C-130J’s strong sales in the military transport sector are touted, the significant training system advancements for the J model and the legacy E and H variants, for international customers and other military end users in the US, have been mostly unheralded.
USAF C-130 E/H/J Program Update
Vic Torla, the Program Director at Lockheed Martin Integrated Training Solutions, noted his industry-led team was awarded two contracts – one in 2011 and one in 2012 – to provide the US Air Force with new C-130J training devices and engineering services over the next several years for the C-130J Aircrew Training System (ATS). The ATS combines the JMATS (J-model Maintenance and Aircrew Training System) and ATARS (Aircrew Training and Rehearsal Support) programs.
The key partner on Lockheed Martin’s-led team is CAE, responsible for the design, development and manufacture of most of the C-130J simulators and training devices for the JMATS program. As this issue was published CAE had delivered 33 different training devices, from high fidelity Weapons Systems Trainers (WSTs) to lower level trainers, to the Air Force and another US military customer.
Chris Stellwag, CAE’s program spokesperson, noted his company also “provides the on-site maintenance and logistics support services for the various C-130J training devices located at USAF bases such as Little Rock Air Force Base, which is the [service’s] main schoolhouse.” The Tampa, Florida-based industry veteran highlighted another division of responsibilities between the companies when he noted “Lockheed Martin provides the classroom and simulator instructors as part of the training support services package.”
Lockheed Martin also furnishes all courseware and delivers an array of other hardware and support for Air Force C-130 learning audiences.
One vendor, FlightSafety, furnishes image generators for the training devices and display systems.
The Air Force aircrew training program consists of 45 syllabi covering more than 79 courses for the C-130H and C-130J. The courses produce 1,800 aviators annually, for the US Marine Corps, US Coast Guard, international partner nations and the Air Force; to include airlift, special operations, rescue, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve units.
Lt Col Jerry Mish, the Operations Officer at the 714th Training Squadron, told MS&T the majority of the qualification courses rely on a “building-block” approach with increasing levels of technical and mission complexity.
The Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas-based 714th Training Squadron manages the $(US) 1.05 billion C-130 ATS and JMATS contracts, and oversees the above mentioned training syllabi and their supported specialized graduate-level flying training courses.
Mish noted “Training relies on front-loading traditional academics, computer-based courseware, ground training, and events in aircrew training devices of varying fidelity. These courses are then polished off through actual sorties and events in the respective aircraft trained.”
The program official also quantified the amount of pilot training enabled by learning technologies. “The full C-130J pilot qualification course lasts 21 weeks, with nearly 300 hours of academics, 50 hours in low fidelity devices, 100 hours in full motion Weapons System Trainers (26 aircraft simulators [missions]) and 30 hours of aircraft flight (nine sorties),” he explained.
The C-130J loadmaster qualification course lasts nearly as long as the one for aircrew members. Mish pointed out the majority of training occurs in a fully operational mock-up of the aircraft cargo compartment called a FuT (Fuselage Trainer). Loadmaster candidates hone their skills in loading and offloading different types of airdrop loads and cargo, airdrop and emergency procedures, as well as refining preflight and normal procedures in the device. “The final portion of loadmaster training also occurs on the flight line, consisting of eight sorties with emphasis on low-level airdrop,” the service training professional said.
From pre-flight inspections to replacing multimillion dollar engines, Air Force maintainers are provided with state-of-the-art training for C-130 E/H/J airframes, mirroring the trend for their operational counterparts. TSgt David Giles, the Assistant First Sergeant at the 373d Training Squadron, Detachment 4, told MS&T the recent shift from the legacy E/H models to the newest C-130J model has prompted a massive refocus in technical school and field training. “Here at Detachment 4, we are tasked with accomplishing Air Force Specialty Code awarding training for C-130 crew chiefs. The introduction of the J-model has driven us to adapt – we have developed new courses to train US Air Force and international maintainers alike. All of our existing legacy training aids have been upgraded or, if needed, replaced to accommodate the training needed,” Giles said, and added, “For example, the landing gear trainer now has been modified with one J model brake system, and one legacy brake system to allow for dual-purpose training. These modifications ensure maintainers receive the most up to date training as the USAF transitions to the J model.”
The Air Force and Lockheed Martin report the continued migration of operational training hours into the C-130’s family of learning devices, reducing operational hours on the aircraft for training missions and providing other efficiencies. This development is in lock-step with other service aircraft training systems. (Editor’s note: See accompany sidebar article on the recent developments in the US Air Force C-17 training system program.)
“With a focus on affordability both the JMATS and ATARS Program reduce the Air Force flying hour requirements by offering high fidelity immersive training on the Weapon System Trainers,” Lockheed Martin’s Torla emphasized.
The Air Force’s Mish further commented on C-130H/J initial qualification training, adding that in general, no more than 15 percent of each initial qualification course is accomplished in the actual aircraft. “This is true for both weapons systems trained and all four aircrew positions: pilot, navigator, flight engineer, and loadmaster,” he said.
Downstream USAF Developments
This year, Lockheed Martin partnered with the Air Force under the JMATS program to set up a new C-130J training site for Air Mobility Command at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas. Training is expected to begin at this this location in early 2014.
During the next 12 months, accession aircrews for the C-130 H and J will be introduced to new and enhanced learning technologies. Major Andrew Kraemer, a C-130H Training Flight Commander at 714th Training Squadron, previewed some of the products and systems.
Kraemer’s list included:
- SCNS PCST (Self Contained Navigation System Personal Computer Self Teach) (C-130H), an interactive software program which mimics the SCNS of that model aircraft;
- Experimental Common Immersion Theater Environment to improve the threat generation capabilities in the simulator and enable the Air Force's vision of Distributed Mission Operations; and
- adding Digital Radar Land Mass Systems to program simulators.
Kraemer also noted that along with adjusting and updating courseware for recurring items such as manual and regulation changes, his training organization’s largest curriculum upgrade is the integration of the Consolidated Airdrop Tool, Version 2 (CAT II). “This software program is used to plan all C-130H airdrop missions and provides computer modeling to ensure more precise aerial delivery. Integrating the change will result in extensive rewrites of our navigator and pilot courses,” he added.
The training officer further reported that unspecified C-130J and C-130H WSTs are going through a visual system upgrade to replace dated projectors with FlightSafety’s VITAL X visual systems.
Jimmy Murphy, the C-130J Contract Officer Representative at the 714th Training Squadron, told MS&T that Joint Precision Air Delivery System upgrades to all aircraft simulators will enable integration of the mission-set into qualification and refresher courses for pilots and loadmasters.
Back at Lockheed Martin, Torla noted his busy industry-led team is also working with Air Force Special Operations Command and Air Combat Command to set up MC/HC-130J operations at several new locations under the ATARS program, supporting search and rescue and special operations mission training.
MC-130J Commando II prototypes are also being modified to AC-130J Ghostriders as part of a $2.4 billion AC-130J program to grow that future fleet. The first Ghostrider is expected to be completed late this year.
“We are also involved with the current and ongoing design of that aircraft’s [AC-130J] mission systems and the training system,” Torla added. CAE reported in late August that its delivery ledger for WSTs to support Air Force special operations and conventional forces’ C-130 crews included:
- an HC/MC-130J WST for Air Combat Command, at Davis-Monthan AFB, in first quarter (1Q) 2014;
- an HC/MC-130J WST for Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC), at Cannon AFB, in 1Q 2014;
- an HC/MC-130J WST for Air Combat Command, at Kirtland AFB in 1Q 2014; and
- a C-130J WST for Air Mobility Command (AMC) at Dyess AFB in 1Q 2014.
All told, the company has 10 training devices on order with AFSOC and another three with AMC.
Since 2007, more than 1,100 aircrew and maintenance personnel from 46 countries have been trained at the Air Force’s Little Rock C-130 Training Center of Excellence. Currently, the school hosts military members from 10 countries, to include Israelis, Afghans, Iraqis and NATO partners.
Torla’s Integrated Training Solutions’ organization’s expanding portfolio has added India and other recent customers. While part of the training solution was to deliver a CAE WST to Hindan Air Force Base last December, the Lockheed Martin team is collaborating with the Indian defense customer to establish wider ranging training services. Torla noted that while his company has its C-130J aircrew instructors on the ground at Hindan air base to train Indian Air Force air crews, other aspects of the training system continue to evolve.
CAE remains a significant industry player in other nations’ C-130 training systems’ programs.
In addition to the Indian Air Force’s WST, the company has delivered more than 20 other training devices to C-130 end users in Australia, Canada, Italy and the UK.
With respect to the Canadian military customer, in 2009 CAE was awarded a contract by the Government of Canada as prime contractor on a program called the Operational Training Systems Provider (OTSP) program. As part of the OTSP program, CAE is under contract to develop and deliver a comprehensive training capability for Canada’s new fleets of Lockheed Martin CC-130J Hercules and Boeing CH-147 Chinook aircraft. Stellwag updated CAE’s progress on this contract. “We have delivered all the C-130J aircrew and maintenance training devices to the new Air Mobility Training Centre at Canadian Forces Base Trenton and have now commenced 20 years of in-service support,” he added.
NGRAIN is a subcontractor to CAE on the CC-130J maintenance training program.
As part of a US foreign military sale program, the US Navy and US Army Corps of Engineers placed CAE under contract earlier this year to develop a KC-130J full-mission simulator and new training facility for the Kuwait Air Force.
CAE is also meeting the challenge of refreshing and upgrading technology in its fielded, international training devices. Earlier this year CAE Australia completed a comprehensive visual system upgrade for the Royal Australian Air Force’s C-130J Full-Flight and Mission Simulator (FFMS) located at RAAF Base Richmond.
The RAAF C-130J FFMS was upgraded with the latest generation CAE Medallion-6000 image generator as well as Liquid Crystal-on-Silicon, high-resolution projectors and displays. In addition, the RAAF C-130J FFMS now incorporates the CAE-developed common database technology, which is an open database architecture that is rapidly updateable and enables correlated distributed mission training.
US Air Force C-17 Training System Update
This July L-3 Link Simulation & Training (L-3 Link) formally unveiled its new C-17 Training System (TS) site at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (WPAFB), Ohio. L-3 Link has been providing annual refresher and currency training since June to more than 120 Air Force Reserve C-17 pilots and loadmasters assigned to the Dayton-based 445th Airlift Wing, 89th Airlift Squadron. Hands-on operations training is conducted in both a C-17 Weapon Systems Trainer (WST) and C-17 Loadmaster Station Trainer (LST).
Lenny Genna, the company’s president, pointed out that in the six weeks the TS site had been operational, “we already conducted 175 training hours with 60-plus simulator events. That’s a lot of training and great progress.”
The Link-led industry team and their responsibilities in the largest TS contract under the purview of the service’s Air Mobility Command (AMC), consists of Boeing and Flight Safety (delivered the WSTs), AAI (provides logistics support), DRG (furnishes technical logistic support), C2 (supplies courseware) and Eagle Systems (provides instructors).
“About 18 percent of the contract is allocated to small business which exceeds the Air Force requirement of 15 percent,” Rod Shrader, Link’s Director of Air Force Programs, told MS&T.
The training device count for the entire US Air Force C-17 TS program is more than 190 aircrew training devices and 35 maintenance training devices. The learning technologies help train more than 1,500 aircrew members throughout the Globemaster force.
The WPAFB C-17 training site facility is the 12th operational training center for the program. In the fourth quarter of 2013, L-3 Link will also open a new C-17 TS facility at Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, NY. Additional C-17 TS sites are planned for Memphis Air National Guard Base in Memphis, and Martinsburg Air National Guard Base in Martinsburg, WV. All C-17 TS sites are expected to be operational not later than Fiscal Year 2014.
The crown jewel of the C-17 technology suite is the WST. Moog provides the electric motion base and control loading system.
FlightSafety’s Vital X visual system delivers the 235 deg. (horizontal) x 50 deg. (vertical) field-of-view (FOV) for the device’s training audience.
Tracy Mead, Boeing’s program manager for the C-17 Aircrew Training System, noted this trainer also has high fidelity, simulated avionics systems. “The avionics very, very closely match the actual avionics installed in the aircraft, but allows those aircraft units to be returned to spares inventory, enhancing the availability of spare parts for aircraft operation,” he explained.
The LST is linked to the WST to permit the crew to train as it will operate – together.
Returns on Investment
One huge benefit to be accrued to the Air Force Reserve in the operation of this TS site is cost avoidance of travel and related expenses. Colonel Stephen Goeman, the 445th Airlift Wing’s commander, pointed out “the cost savings is critical for us. We don’t have to send our folks down to Mississippi [172d Airlift Wing, Jackson] every three months to get the training. We can do it here.”
“Even better is the ability that we’re going to have to bring our crew members up ‘to the next level’. The training provided by L-3 is going to get us there. The ‘box’ is state-of-the-art. Thank you, Boeing/FlightSafety for that. The next step is we’re going to get our folks in here and you’ll hopefully work them very hard when they come up for the training,” Goeman pointed out, but more significantly added, “and all of the training we can normally do in the airplane we can do here – to simulate it.”
The operational commander was also asked about AMC’s near-term intentions to migrate more on-board training into WTSs to help offset the loss of flight hours from sequestration and other current budget constraints. “That’s Air Force-wide, they want to go with that,” he remarked and added that while details have not been finalized, “they [the simulator flight hours] certainly won’t be any less. We’ll probably do more and more.” – Marty Kauchak