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625th STOS installs new virtual trainer

625th STOS receives new virtual Air Launch Control System trainer

Capt. Alexander Foos, 625th Strategic Operations Squadron weapons and tactics flight commander, right, experiments with the new virtual airborne procedures trainer while Capt. Evans Wright, 625th Strategic Operations Squadron airborne launch control system intel and strategic planner, observes July 22. The virtual trainer will allow ALCS operators to remain proficient and conduct in-house training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Charles J. Haymond)

625th STOS receives new virtual Air Launch Control System trainer

Capt. Alexander Foos, 625th Strategic Operations Squadron weapons and tactics flight commander, touches the new virtual airborne procedures trainer July 22, at Offutt AFB, Neb. The new virtual trainer replaced the squadron's legacy model that was damaged when Offutt flooded in March 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Charles J. Haymond)

625th STOS receives new virtual Air Launch Control System trainer

Lt. Col. Matthew Hlivko, 625th Strategic Operations Squadron commander, left, stands with Senior Master Sgt. Brad Tavares, 625th STOS superintendent, cuts the ribbon during a ceremony at Offutt AFB, Neb., July 22. The ceremony was held to celebrate the installation and operation of a new Air Launch Control System virtual trainer. The trainer will allow ALCS operators to remain proficient and conduct in-house training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Charles J. Haymond)

625th STOS receives new virtual Air Launch Control System trainer

Air Launch Control System operators from the 625th Strategic Operations Squadron receive training on the new virtual ALCS trainer at Offutt AFB, Neb., June 26, 2020. The new virtual trainer allows Airmen to conduct in-house training and remain proficient on the weapons system that launches ICBMs from an airborne E-6 aircraft.

625th STOS receives new virtual Air Launch Control System trainer

Air Launch Control System operators from the 625th Strategic Operations Squadron receive training on the new virtual ALCS trainer at Offutt AFB, Neb., June 26, 2020. The new virtual trainer allows Airmen to conduct in-house training and remain proficient on the weapons system that launches ICBMs from an airborne E-6 aircraft.

BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. --

The 625th Strategic Operations Squadron held a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Offutt Air Force Base yesterday, benchmarking the installation and operation of the unit’s long-awaited Virtual Airborne Processing Trainer.

“The new virtual trainer will equip air launch control system (ALCS) operators and trainees with the highest level of training fidelity to carry out survivable nuclear command and control,” said Capt. Evans Wright, who oversaw the installation of the trainer. ALCS officers operate aboard a Navy E-6 and provide the President of the United States with the means to launch ICBMs from an airborne platform if needed.

When Offutt AFB flooded in March 2019, the unit’s traditional trainer was damaged, forcing the 625th STOS to seek alternate means of training. ALCS officers accomplished these tasks through the use of the Battle Staff Trainer, but the system is more geared toward airborne command post simulations and lacked ALCS functionality. Airmen also conducted hands-on training aboard the E-6 as well as traveled to Vandenberg to use a testing simulator.

“The new ALCS trainer means that our Airmen can once again accomplish training and become certified on the weapons system and remain proficient locally,” said Wright. “From what I’ve seen of the system, I know our operators will benefit greatly from the upgrade.”

The legacy trainer was a mock-up of the battle staff compartment, composed of bulky equipment. Whereas, the new ALCS trainer is 100 percent virtual in design and more closely resembles the battle staff compartment where ALCS Airmen work.

There are other benefits as well, such as mobility and testing capacity.

“The virtual trainer is much more agile than the legacy system, allowing us to easily move it anywhere with the correct dimensions and proper power source,” Wright said. “The ALCS trainer also has the added benefit of allowing us to stress the weapon system to a greater extent while quickly turning it around to conduct more tests.”

Stress tests allow ALCS operators to experiment how the weapon system will react when presented with various conditions without damaging the equipment, according to Wright.

The ALCS virtual trainer was installed in late June, a few months later than expected due to the nation-wide COVID-19 health crisis.

“The safety of our Airmen, contractors and community remain a top priority as we continue to combat the spread of this virus,” said Lt. Col. Matthew Hlivko, 625th STOS commander. “Our mission does not stop, but we took every precaution available to limit the risk involved during delivery.” 

With the installation and acceptance testing complete, the 625th STOS is ready to resume initial qualification training. On average the unit trains eight operators annually, with the first class in 2020 beginning this week.

“The Virtual Airborne Processing Trainer is a welcomed asset for our nuclear command and control professionals, it will increase our unit readiness, and our team is eager to put it to good use,” said Hlivko.