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Nellis AFB, Nev., opens pilots' virtual training center

Nellis AFB, Nev., opens pilots' virtual training center
Col. Dean Caldwell cut a ceremonial ribbon opening the U.S. Air Force Virtual Test and Training Center at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., last week. Photo by Airman 1st Class Dwayne Young/USAF 

Aug. 24 (UPI) -- A training center enabling pilot training in both live and virtual environments opened at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., the Air Force announced on Monday.

The Virtual Test and Training Center, ceremonially opened last week, will "house the future of joint aerial combat training," an Air Force statement said.

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The Center's first missions will be conducted in early 2021, when it will become a squadron assigned to the Nevada Test and Training Range, one of two military training areas at the base.

The capabilities of the VTTC will include platform-specific counterterrorism and live-fire exercises, as well as incorporation of multi-domain and near-peer threats across air, space and cyber domains, Col. Dean Caldwell, director of the USAF Warfare Center, said in the statement.

Since live and virtual training environments will be connected, the need for numerous aircraft and crew to arrive at a singular location will be reduced, lowering costs.

"The VTTC is a great complementary piece to live-fly sorties," said Peter Zupas, USAF Warfare Center analyst. "It will allow personnel to increase the number of sorties that otherwise wouldn't be regularly available to them in live-fly. However, simulators are no substitute for live-fly operations."

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The Air Force regards the use of advanced virtual simulators as a cost-effective and crucial element in pilot training. In July it announced plans to adopt a virtual reality trainer for B-52 Stratofortress pilots.

Also in July, Lockheed Martin announced that it linked communications between F-35, F-22, F-16 and E3 airborne warning planes in a simulated environment

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