Construction began here on the new 55th Electronic Combat Group academic facility Aug. 15 launching the next chapter in formal flight training for EC-130H Compass Call.
The new $78 million complex will be the home of the 42nd Electronic Combat Squadron, which is charged as the Air Forces sole formal training unit for the Compass Call mission. The facility will house the first flight deck simulator, two different mission crew simulators, Squadron Operations Center, office space for both Air Force and contract instructors, as well as multiple training classrooms.
“This facility was deemed a requirement about five years ago,” said Col. Marty Reynolds, 55th ECG commander. “We are very excited and grateful for the building. Currently, the training is scattered amongst different buildings as well as other bases. Historically, our Flight Deck Airmen are initially trained at Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas and Joint-Base Lewis-McChord in Washington, while mission crews were trained here at Davis-Monthan. This facility enables us to provide world-class training under one roof in a world-class facility.”
Known as the Weapons System Trainer, the flight simulator will provide air refueling, landing, in-flight emergency procedure training for four different crew positions.
The two mission crew simulators will represent the two distinct baseline aircraft configurations employed by the Compass Call. Additionally, it will enable the group to upgrade the simulators individually when future baselines are delivered to ensure crews are trained in the latest capabilities and tactics to meet the requirements of combatant commanders.
“This multi-simulator facility will allow for initial, upgrade and continuation training in one location and will enhance our ability to support current and future contingency operations,” Reynolds said. “The 55th ECG has been constantly deployed for the past 10 years, and we do not see that changing anytime soon.”
Currently, the EC-130H Compass Call is the highest utilized C-130 in the Air Force inventory, he said.
“We have been able to overcome several challenges during the contract award and design process thanks to the support by multiple 55th Wing, 355th Fighter Wing, US Corps of Engineers as well as the design and construction teams,” said Lt. Col. Phil Acquaro, the 42nd Electronic Combat Squadron commander. “Success of this project and the future impact to the Air Force will be a direct result of teamwork that starts with the 355th Fighter Wing security team that inspects the construction vehicles, the civil engineers that will maintain the facility and, of course, the instructors that will perform the actual aircrew training.”
The facility is expected to be completed by October 2014, and fully operational by December 2014.
“This is a tremendous win for us as we will deliver the goal of the 42nd ECS to train professional aviators in a world-class facility,” Reynolds said.