I/ITSEC NEWS: Air Force Mulling How to Train for High-End Fights

By Mikayla Easley
A pilot operates an F-35 flight simulator

Lockheed Martin photo

ORLANDO, Fla. — One of the biggest training gaps the Air Force faces is preparing for high-end fights with great power competitors Russia and China, officials said Dec. 2.

“I would be willing to argue that the highest priority — or the biggest gap — is in that high-end training," said Air Force Col. Nick Yates, the chief of operational training infrastructure division at Air Force headquarters. "We’re not providing that in the live, and we’re not providing that synthetically.”

The service needs to upgrade its training facilities and provide as realistic replication of a threat as it can, while also understanding how to balance both live and synthetic training, Yates said during a panel discussion at the National Training and Simulation Association's annual Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference in Orlando, Florida. NTSA is an affiliate of the National Defense Industrial Association.

The push for more advanced training reflects guidance from Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles "CQ" Brown Jr.’s “Accelerate Change or Lose" directive.

“We can’t be sitting here in five or 10 years talking about needing to replicate a pacing challenge and pacing threat because we’re not providing the proper training arena for the warfighter,” Yates said. “We’ve got to get this done now and we’ve got to get it done right.”

Two platforms — the Common Simulation Training Environment and the Joint Simulation Environment — aim to connect the Air Force's multiple virtual training environments together, Yates said. The service hopes it will be able to better train airmen at a high fidelity through better networking systems together.

Col. Cameron Dadgar, commander of the Nevada Test and Training Range at Nellis Air Force Base, said the common synthetic training environment is an important tool to match U.S. pacing threats. The level of fidelity needed to both train and test fifth-generation capabilities requires the approach CSTE and JSE bring, he added.

Meanwhile, the Air Force is pursuing the full spectrum of combat training, said Col. Scott Koeckritz, the chief of Air Combat Command's test and training branch. Live, virtual, constructive training is the ultimate goal, he noted.

Preparing to fight in modern warfare from an infrastructure perspective will require the service to acquire large swaths of airspace to test and train with technologies such as hypersonic weapons, Dadgar said. Directed energy and artificial intelligence will also be important technologies the service needs to consider, Koeckritz added.

Topics: Training and Simulation

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