By Master Sgt. Nicholas Carzis, 146 Airlift Wing, Public Affairs, California Air National Guard
PORT HUENEME, Calif. – After a decade of planning and unforeseen impediments, including a worldwide pandemic, the 146th Airlift Wing held a groundbreaking ceremony to commemorate the start of construction for a state-of-the-art C-130J simulator site Jan. 4.
The new simulator or Weapons System Trainer Reconfigurable C-130J flight simulator (WST 12R) will showcase numerous capabilities that will separate it from other simulators across the United States. One of the most significant benefits for California and the Air National Guard is the strategic placement of WST 12R at the Channel Islands Air National Guard Station.
Col. Lisa A. Nemeth, commander 146th Airlift Wing, said the new simulator’s training opportunities will be shared with the entire C-130J community, benefiting more units and providing more customizable training than any other C-130J simulator.
“This is an exciting day for the 146th Airlift Wing and the state of California,” Nemeth said. “Having this simulator here at Channel Islands will provide more efficient and realistic training for our aircrew, and as the C-130J Western Region simulator, it will also benefit other units from across the nation who will travel to Channel Islands for training.
“WST 12R will enhance and modernize how our aircrew accomplishes its training because it’s the first configurable simulator between the ‘HC’ and ‘Slick J’ C-130J aircraft variations that can also be rapidly configured to facilitate training for C-130J block enhancements for 6.0 and 8.1.”
Block enhancements refer to software and hardware capability expansions installed to enhance aircraft capabilities.
“WST 12R’s block enhancements with modular, rapidly configurable options will immediately benefit C-130J flying wings, including the aircrews from the California Air National Guard’s 129th Rescue Wing at Moffett Field, which operates HC-130J Combat King II aircraft,” said Nemeth.
Col. Christopher Dougherty, vice commander 146th Airlift Wing, said there the simulator saves costs and improves training for the wing’s aerial firefighting mission.
“Based on historical data, we predict that WST 12R will significantly reduce the travel, fuel and training traveling costs by an estimated $6.3 million annually,” Dougherty said. “In addition, we’re excited to gain the first-of-its-kind MAFFS (Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System) training profile. Lastly, this simulator will virtually connect to other simulators and training locations to conduct formation airdrop training over a secure network.”
The MAFFS mission is a partnership and joint effort between the U.S. Forest Service and the Department of Defense that began in 1971 to integrate military air tankers into a national firefighting response.
Dougherty says WST 12R will debut as the first MAFFS virtual training simulator, providing functional training scenarios for aircrew preparing to fly aerial wildfire suppression missions.
“These training profiles will closely simulate flight, weight and atmospheric conditions that MAFFS aircrews encounter during wildland fire suppression efforts. The new simulator will give aircrews the skills to manage emergencies with more proficiency and success, thereby improving safety and mission accomplishment,” said Dougherty.