The first big Air Force Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity
(ID/IQ) contract for simulators is the Training System Acquisition
(TSA) program, which could be worth up to $500 million. TSA is scheduled
to run through 2006.
This program is managed by the Training Systems Product Group (TSPG)
at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. TSPG—part of the
Air Force Materiel Command—acquires and sustains training
systems, according to its director, Air Force Col. Larry Skapin.
TSPG allows the Air Force to present a single face to the simulation
industry, “to let you know exactly what the requirements are,”
Skapin told an industry briefing in Orlando.
The TSA program covers a broad spectrum of simulation training
needs, which includes not only design and development of training
devices, but also courseware, hardware, visual-sensor systems, databases
and logistic support for contractors. In addition, TSA provides
installation, testing, maintenance and sustaining aircrews.
“Training is not the top priority of all commands,”
“It keeps us busy trying to keep our training simulators
current and up to speed,” said Skapin.
A significant portion of Air Force dollars are spent on training,
said Col. Jerry Straw, chief of the Warfighting Training Division,
at the Air Force Research Laboratory in Mesa, Ariz. “If we
aren’t out killing people and breaking their stuff, then we
It costs $4,000 to fly one training sortie, Straw told industry
executives. “If the trainee busts the sortie (performs badly),
then we have to go do it all over again.”
In a simulator, said Straw, “we can have a trainee fly eight
to 10 sorties a day, which is more than actual flight training can
provide. Then, we can replay the tape and show them exactly where
mistakes where made. This way, trainees are much better prepared
for flight time when they finish a simulator course,” Straw
“Simulation makes a fighter pilot a better fighter pilot,”
Straw continued. “I can take a kid and put him or her in a
simulator, and, in two weeks, I can have one fine simulator fighter
Simulators can never take the place of actual flight training,
Straw cautioned. “Will he or she be a good pilot?” he
asked. “[Until a pilot solos] I’m not sure.”