April 7 (UPI) -- The U.S. Air Force has directed contractor Canadian Aviation Electronics to connect KC-135 Stratotanker simulators to other mobility platforms.
The simulators will be integrated with the Air Force's Distributed Training Center Network. Once the work is complete, personnel will be able to receive instruction for operating the tanker aircraft from different military bases.
"We currently have two simulators where we can link the two together to perform formation flights," Maj. Brian Sikkema explained in a press release. "What we are moving to next, and what the Air Force is moving to as a whole, is to bring more training online to the virtual world. The next step is tying our simulators to a server that all the other Air Force simulators are tied to."
Trainees will soon be able to experience simulations connected with the boom operator simulator to enhance aerial-refueling instruction, the main function of the KC-135.
"It allows us to train exactly how we would fight and take out a lot of the restrictions," Sikkema added.
The Air Force official went on to explain simulators are helpful for reducing the cost of training pilots while also providing them with beneficial experience. The cost to operate a KC-135 Stratotanker, he says, equates to roughly $8,000 an hour. By contrast, simulators cost about $500 an hour.
The KC-135 Stratotanker is an air-to-air refueling platform used to support fighters and other allied aircraft during combat and reconnaissance missions. It can also be used for transporting littler and ambulatory patients.