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Hill AFB aims to improve vehicle ops training with state-of-the-art simulator

Staff Sgt. Andrew Bagley, training validation and operation NCOIC for the 75th Logistics Readiness Squadron, practices driving in rain on the unit's new vehicle training simulator.  Drivers can use the state-of-the-art simulator to practice on about 30 different vehicles in nearly every driving condition imaginable.   (U.S. Air Force photos by Cynthia Griggs)

Staff Sgt. Andrew Bagley, 75th Logistics Readiness Squadron, training validation and operation noncommissioned officer in charge, practices driving in the new vehicle training simulator. Drivers can use the state-of-the-art simulator to practice in more than 30 different vehicles in nearly every driving condition imaginable. (U.S. Air Force photo by Cynthia Griggs)

Staff Sgt. Andrew Bagley, training validation and operation NCOIC in the 75th Logistics Readiness Squadron, practices night driving in snowy conditions with the unit's new vehicle training simulator. Drivers can use the state-of-the-art simulator to train for nearly any driving condition imaginable and on nearly 30 different vehicles.  (U.S. Air Force photos by Cynthia Griggs)

Staff Sgt. Andrew Bagley, 75th Logistics Readiness Squadron, training validation and operation noncommissioned officer in charge, practices driving in snowy conditions at night with the new vehicle training simulator. Drivers can use the state-of-the-art simulator to train for nearly any driving condition imaginable and in nearly 30 different simulated vehicles. (U.S. Air Force photo by Cynthia Griggs)

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah (AFNS) --

Hill AFB civilians and military Airmen in need of ground transportation training now have an option other than real-world driving thanks to a new simulator purchased by the 75th Logistics Readiness Squadron.

“It’s a great training tool,” said Master Sgt. Stephen Baskiewicz, ground transportation section chief. “It provides the most realistic experience I’ve seen in helping drivers learn how to operate specialized vehicles before operating the real deal.”

The state-of-the-art simulator offers training on nearly 30 different vehicles, from fire trucks, police cars, buses, tractor- trailers and military vehicles such as humvees and mine-resistant ambush protected vehicles, or MRAP. The simulator offers more than 150 preset scenarios and can generate nearly any driving condition imaginable, as trainers control variables such as weather, road conditions, visibility and malfunctions.

Three 55-inch screens and surround sound gives trainees an interactive experience very similar to real-world driving.

“The biggest thing this will do is get people used to a vehicle before getting in that vehicle,” said Chase Terry, vehicle operator training leader. “Their training will be so much more successful if they have a general knowledge of how a vehicle works before actually trying to drive.”

Terry said the difference in driving ability between those who train on the simulator before driving and those who don’t is “mind-blowing.”

“It’s crazy just how much they learn on this simulator and how proficient they become before even getting behind the wheel of a real vehicle,” he said.

The acquisition, spearheaded by Baskiewicz, saw firsthand the advantages of a driving simulator while stationed at a base with a simulator. The Air Base Wing approved his purchase proposal, and paid for the $140,000 machine. Baskiewicz estimates the simulator will provide the base a savings of approximately $50,000 to $100,000 annually in preventive maintenance costs, fuel savings and accident-repair costs.

The simulator was purchased with Squadron Innovation Funds. These funds directly support innovative ideas pitched by Airmen, giving units the power to solve problems and make incremental, cutting-edge technological improvements without having to rely on approval from leadership at the Pentagon.

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