CAE USA, prime contractor for the United States Air Force (USAF) KC-135 Aircrew Training System (ATS) program, has received an Authorization to Operate (ATO) on the USAF's Distributed Training Center Network (DTCN).

The first KC-135 operational flight trainer (OFT) to receive the ATO is at Scott Air Force Base (AFB), and the additional KC-135 ATS sites, including March Air Reserve Base (ARB), Fairchild AFB, Grissom ARB and MacDill AFB, are expected to transition onto the DTCN in 2017 and 2018. Receiving the Authorization to Operate on the DTCN means KC-135 aircrew training devices can be networked and connected to other Mobility Air Force (MAF) platforms so the USAF can conduct live-virtual-constructive (LVC) training on a secure and classified network.

The KC-135 Stratotanker provides the core aerial refueling capability for the USAF and has served in this role for more than 50 years. This tanker platform enhances the Air Force's ability to accomplish its primary mission of global reach. The KC-135 aircrew training devices support this mission and help train more than 3,500 KC-135 aircrews annually.

CAE USA began efforts more than a year ago to connect the KC-135 simulator fleet to a virtual network where they can train with other aircrews in simulators representing various platforms to provide virtual air refueling. Recently, CAE USA's cybersecurity team obtained a difficult, but critical ATO certification requirement that allows the KC-135 simulator systems to operate on the DTCN. The company worked closely with the USAF to ensure the KC-135 OFT met the required U.S. Department of Defense risk management framework and cybersecurity standards. Now, CAE USA and the USAF are in the process of transitioning additional KC-135 aircrew training devices so the USAF will be able to conduct more virtual training over the DTCN.