A-10 Simulator Trains Pilots for Real-World Scenarios

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Sarah Pokorney
  • 124th Wing Public Affairs
A-10 pilots here began training June 3 on a newly upgraded full mission trainer to simulate real-world missions in dangerous war zones. 

Known to 190th Fighter Squadron pilots as the "virtual hog", the new simulator mimics equipment and capabilities of the new A-10C model aircraft with fully operational hands-on controls and two large multi-function color displays that provide a moving map display. It can replicate the failure of every moving part of the A-10C and provides a safe and realistic environment for complex emergency procedures training. 

"We are lucky to have it. It allows us, in a static environment, to perfect the new C-model system and use the live flying time to practice the tactical applications," said 190th A-10 pilot 1st Lt. Andrew Labrum. 

From the exterior, the simulator looks like a freestanding black box the size of a single car garage. The opening on one end reveals a dark cave-like passage extending deep into the heart of the trainer to the cockpit. 

Once seated in the cockpit, the pilot is surrounded on all sides by a faint glow emitting from flat displays. After the pilot takes the controls, a full field of vision display illuminates with a vivid landscape in hostile territory. 

The extensive simulator upgrade required a team of technicians five days to complete and was funded by the Air Combat Command for training and equipment. 

The simulator was upgraded to reflect the Precision Engagement modifications currently being made to convert the A-10 A+ model aircraft to A-10C models. This allows them to identify and strike targets from higher altitudes and greater distances without sacrificing accuracy. Idaho's A-10C conversions are scheduled to be complete by November. 

"These improvements allow us to employ smart weapons like Joint Direct Attack Munitions and Wind Corrected Munitions Dispensers," said Labrum. 

In addition to the upgraded simulator, the 190th has five hands-on-throttle-and-stick trainers that are just two months old. The HOTAS do not have the enclosed environment of the FMT but they do offer effective interactive training with a 56 inch flat-panel display, touch-screen instrument panel and hands-on controls. 

"The simulators display classified and unclassified locations with real threats and targets that we can react to," said 190th A-10 pilot 1st. Lt. Ryan Brown. 

In the near future, the simulators will be connected to a virtual battle space where pilots can train alongside pilots from around the globe. This prepares them to react to a variety of scenarios with squadrons they may serve with in-theater. The experience gained from this virtual battle space is essential to testing A-10C war fighting capabilities, preventing collateral damage and ultimately saving lives.