CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, NM – It’s a true video gamer’s fantasy. A giant military aircraft simulator sits in a room complete with navigation and combat capabilities awaiting pilots in training and those refreshing skills to sit down and fire up the console.
The simulator is outfitted with a CV-22 Osprey cockpit that houses several monitors and true-to-life aircraft components used by aircrew members assigned to the 20th Special Operations Squadron at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. The simulator allows aircrew to hone skills and instill fundamentals without adding unnecessary wear and tear to the actual aircraft.
“The simulators we have allow us to run tactical, combat and proficiency training profiles for our crew members,” said Maj. Christian Helms, 20 SOS pilot. “The CV-22 is a uniquely designed craft and therefore our simulators are designed specifically for our airframe. What we have is a revolution in aviation technology. The CV-22 has uniquely specific capabilities that allow it to go where no other aircraft in the inventory can go.”
The skilled pilot described the simulators as an excellent tool used to put aircrew in situations that would be otherwise too high risk to accomplish in the actual aircraft. Multiple engine failures, fires and compound system failures are too dangerous to routinely practice in the actual aircraft, but the simulators can very accurately replicate those malfunctions in a classroom-like setting without major risk to crew members.
“As with all simulators, there are too many factors and variables to deal with when it comes to actual flying to ever achieve a fully accurate simulator,” Helms stated. “The Air Force has given us a tool which we realize has limitations, but is still able to get the job done.”
The simulators at Cannon are made from actual aircraft parts. Approximately 95 percent of the simulator’s equipment shares the same part and stock numbers as the commensurate equipment found on the actual aircraft. This allows the aircrew of the 20 SOS to maintain proficiency on nearly exact training analog.
“The Air Commandos of the 20 SOS are Special Operations Command’s premiere assault pilots and flight engineers,” Helms added. “Our personnel are the best in Air Force Special Operations Command. Our NCOs are simply the best I have ever worked with. They are an example for all else to follow. We are fortunate to have so many mission-focused, goal-oriented Air Commandos. We value what we are doing, who we support and the mission of our wing.”