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New Harrier simulator nearing completion at MCAS Yuma

By Lance Cpl. Austin Hazard | | May 28, 2009

Pilots are scheduled to have access to a new AV-8B Harrier simulator at the Marine Aviation Training Systems Site here Aug. 31, 2009.

The new simulator, which costs approximately $10 million, will allow pilots to switch between day and night scenarios, as well as simulate missions with improved graphics.

Although the older simulator will still be used, it does not have the dual scenario capability of the newer one, said Capt. Luke Jacobs, MATSS operations officer.

The two simulators use different versions of the Harrier, said Jacobs. The changes to flight controls are minor, but enough to challenge a pilot who hasn’t used the equipment in awhile.

The graphics boost will also improve practice sessions, said Jacobs.

“It will help the pilots get a better feel for the scenarios by presenting them more realistically,” said Jacobs.

Additionally, the new system can record moments of a simulation and replay them later as an instructing tool.

“It’s like doing John Madden-style editing, which will be a vast improvement on increasing survivability,” said Jacobs. “We can go back to a certain moment in the session and highlight what the pilot did well or what he did wrong and help him improve on it. This way they can see for themselves exactly what went wrong. The whole thing is a huge leap forward for the Harrier community.”

Although the Harrier is being replaced by the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the money went to good use, said Jacobs.

“The last Marine Harrier pilot, whoever it is, is probably still in middle school,” Jacobs said. “The Harriers aren’t scheduled for (decommissioning) until about 2020.”

MATSS additionally plans to have two F-35 simulators and possibly an unmanned aerial vehicle simulator within a year or two.

Eventually, all MATSS simulators will be networked together, allowing for linked use, said Jacobs. By doing this, pilots will be able to fly team missions together or even against each other using the simulators.

“By about 2012, it’s going to be a nationwide network,” said Jacobs. “Pilots here will be able to fly against Air Force pilots in their F-15s at Langley Air Force Base, for example.”

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