April 21 (UPI) -- Aircrews with the Iowa Army National Guard began training with an updated simulation device designed to imitate flying with a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter.
The device, known as the Black Hawk Aircrew Trainer, or "the BAT," is built to prepare pilots to respond to unexpected situations during flight missions.
"The BAT allows us to train pilots in situations we hope they never find themselves in -- whether it be emergency procedures we cannot simulate in the aircraft, or to train pilots in threat scenarios -- so they know how to properly react when they're exposed to those threats in Afghanistan, or Iraq or future environments," U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Travis Vanlengen explained in a press release.
Prior to the BAT's delivery, pilots with the Iowa Army National Guard were only able to use flight simulators for six hours per year due to travel time. Now, personnel no longer need to leave the state.
"Having the BAT at Camp Dodge is huge for us, because now we can send people down on an additional flight training period, and they can get their simulator time without leaving the state of Iowa," Army Chief Warrant Officer 4 Steven Stumbo said, adding pilots are now required to train for 18 hours annually.
In addition to making military exercises more convenient, the U.S. Department of Defense notes the simulator cuts back on government expenses for their training programs. While a real UH-60 Black Hawk costs $17 million as well as $4,500 per flight hour, the simulator was procured for $9 million.