The Naval Aviation Training Systems and Ranges program office (PMA-205) recently delivered the first fully capable Naval Aircrewman Training Systems (NATS) and Marine Common Aircrew Trainers (MCAT) to the fleet.
The NATS was delivered to Naval Air Station Mayport, Fla. and two MCATs were delivered to Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C. Both the NATS and the MCAT devices are being used to conduct initial, integrated crew training and proficiency flights, ultimately reducing flight hours in operational aircraft, reducing and and in some cases eliminating ordnance expenditures, and reducing high-risk evolutions that could lead to mishaps.
“This is long overdue” said Capt. Lisa Sullivan, PMA-205 program manager, who oversees the two programs. “In the past, H-60, H-53, H-1, and V-22 aircrew did not have an opportunity to start their training in a controlled simulator environment before entering into a dynamic aircraft environment”. Sullivan said, “For our Marine Corps aircrew, it provides the ability to gain initial weapon engagement proficiency in a simulator before live fire training on operational flights.”
The NATS device is the first of nine deliveries under the Aircrewman Training Optimization program, an effort enhancing their hardware and software capability baseline. It provides a blend of virtual and physical environments for training MH-60R aircrew in crew coordination; aerial gunnery; hoist operations; search and rescue; and vertical replenishment. The Navy is incorporating these enhanced environments into Navy helicopter Wing Training Manuals.
“These devices are changing the way we train and prepare for missions around the world. It is exciting to be one of the first to experience them,” said Naval Aircrewman Tactical Helicopter Chief Matthew Owens, H-60 Training Systems deputy integrated product team lead. “This is a remarkable time to be in the realm of training, there seems to be a shift happening, and the realization that training truly does equal combat lethality is occurring. We must train like we fight to be effective.”
The fleet will officially begin training in the MCAT this spring and during recent MCAT mission scenario testing, Marine Corps enlisted aircrew subject matter experts (SME) remarked that the MCAT will be a training and readiness game-changer. All SMEs involved in the mission scenario testing voiced a desire to start training in the MCAT as soon as possible. Prior to the delivery of the new device, Marine Corps CH-53E, MV-22B, and UH-1Y enlisted aircrew trained on operational aircraft.
The new system enables non-pilot aircrew to maintain and enhance individual and unit mission readiness and will allow the Marine Corps to optimize aircraft flight hour utilization by offering a new, state-of-the-art, simulation-based alternative.