JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACLAND, Texas (AFNS) —
Virtual reality glasses and body-worn sensors are helping to take technical learning to the next level in Inter-American Air Force Academy at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland. The equipment is part of a virtual reality simulator and among the latest equipment being used to train international military students from partner nations.
The SV-R simulator will be used to train military and law enforcement students from Latin America, focusing on counter-narcotics efforts and combating transnational criminal organizations.
“This will greatly enhance the training for our students,” said Staff Sgt. Ricardo Alonso, IAAFA chief of standardization and assessment, who helped bring the technology to the academy. “A lot of them have never been exposed to that type of training environment.”
The SV-R simulator allows instructors to create an infinite number of scenarios in a realistic training environment. As Alonso explained, “even if we change the factors in it about how lethally we have to respond as military police or law enforcement officers.”
The simulator presents the user as an avatar and allows users to realistically interact with each other, creating a realistic environment. Cutting-edge technology is implemented in the IAAFA’s Special Reactions Team and Ground Defense Leadership curriculum, where new and more advanced students can train in a controlled environment.
“We’re trying to get the students into something that’s more realistic but also safe,” Alonso said. “So we first evaluate their tactics in virtual space and then we take them to the range with live weapons.”
IAAFA is accelerating change by deploying this cutting-edge technology for its security forces flights. According to Alonso, it also serves as a model for technical training for security forces considering implementing similar technology. Accelerating change is a common theme for the academy as it continues to modernize to meet the needs of the strategic competitive environment.
The academy also recently acquired a modular training firing range to use as part of a final training exercise for students in the Ground Defense Leadership and Special Response Team courses. The Capture House consists of modular wooden panels that can be easily moved and reconfigured into different layouts, ensuring that students remain challenged.
The facility, located in the middle of the IAAFA campus, eliminates the need to transport students across town to camp Taurus for such training, which helps to save time and money.
The move to modernize training is also evident with the A-29 flight deck simulator that was recently acquired by the academy.
“It’s unlike anything we have here,” said Lt. Col. Ryan Wolfe, IAAFA chief of strategic plans and programs, who oversaw the assembly of the A-29. “It’s a real-world asset that’s being used by five Latin American countries, so it unlocks a lot of different core competencies that we can teach our partner nation students.”
The simulator is transported by Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, late November and currently awaiting setup. The A-29 Super Tucano will be implemented into the instrument pilot procedures course curriculum this academic year, with expansion into other courses based on combatant command objectives and partner nation needs.
“As we celebrate IAAFA’s 80th anniversary, our team continues to find innovative methods to bring impactful and relevant academics to our Latin American partners,” said Col. Jose Jimenez, Jr., IAAFA commander. “We need to meet our customers’ needs and keep pace with our strategic competitors.”