The Air Force is employing a virtual simulator to train airmen at Ramstein Air Base in Germany to operate different kinds of vehicles, cutting down on time spent on the road.

The 86th Vehicle Readiness Squadron, which operates military vehicles, transport vehicles and special-purpose vehicles, claims the virtual vehicle simulator is a more efficient means of training airmen to handle vehicles on roads or in conditions with which they are unfamiliar.

“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, the squadron’s training validation and operations supervisor, according to an Air Force news release. “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.”

According to Master Sgt. Daniel Moffett, the squadron’s noncommissioned officer in charge of training validation and operations, the simulator utilizes various tools so airmen can be put in different scenarios such as fog or snow.

“In addition to that, we have the capability to do blow outs to the vehicle tires, create accidents and add situation events where they have to react quickly,” Moffett said.

Sensors are also installed throughout the simulator to aid instructors in how to better train the airmen, the Air Force said.

Previously, airmen were driven on roads to familiarize themselves with the vehicles, before actually getting behind the wheel and driving on base and the highway on their own. This process was more time consuming and used more resources and fuel than the vehicle virtual simulator does.

The simulator also reduces vehicle maintenance costs and accelerates the certification process.

“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,” Moffett said.

Squadron Innovation Funds were spent to acquire the vehicle simulator.

This isn’t the first time the Air Force has used virtual simulators to train airmen who operate ground vehicles. In November 2017, Luke Air Force Base in Arizona started using a driving cockpit simulator to help airmen practice operating on various vehicles in different weather conditions.

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