OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. --
The 55th Operations Group at Offutt Air Force Base is using new virtual reality equipment sent from the 16th Air Force to help them maintain their RC-135 training requirements.
Since Offutt’s runway is currently under construction and students need to travel back and forth to Lincoln, the 338th Combat Training Squadron is relying on the VR equipment not only for training, but also to save time and fuel.
“We are doing split operations down at Lincoln, so it would make it more difficult to get students down there,” said Col. John Litecky, 55th OG commander. “They have about a one-and-a-half-hour bus drive both way, so it is saving us that time alone.”
Before the VR system, students would have to power up an aircraft on the ground or spend time in the air to understand the system they are now learning on the new equipment. This will save approximately $4 million a year in fuel.
“We are able to prioritize the aircraft and use it to the maximum extent possible, while the students are doing all their prep work on the ground getting it ready for a chance to see the systems virtually before they actually see it in the aircraft,” Litecky said. “It ends up saving a lot of time, and we are able to see the reduced amount of time on the aircraft in order for the students to become familiar with the system.”
The VR system allows the students to know where safety equipment is located on the aircraft and gives them the opportunity to handle the equipment virtually. The students are able to interact with everything, including the oxygen bottle and other items they would not normally be allow to touch.
“It is insane; it is awesome,” said Senior Airman Ryan Benson, 338th CTS airborne cryptologic language analyst student. “It saves a trip going down to Lincoln at the benefit of being able to view the system in a way I can do my job.”
Litecky believes the VR system will continue its success as the program grows and improves.
“I think overall the program is a great benefit to the wing and the group,” Litecky said. “I think we are on the cusp of seeing what it can do for us and there is a lot more opportunity that we will be able to see savings in the future as we continue to develop the program.”