California Air National Guard’s (ANG) 146th Airlift Wing (AW) has officially marked the start of construction of its new C-130J flight simulator site on the west coast.

The milestone was marked by a ground-breaking ceremony held on 4 January. It was originally scheduled for 5 January but was brought forward due to caution for unfavourable weather. 

The new site at Channel Islands ANG Station will house the new simulator system, called the Weapons System Trainer Reconfigurable C-130J flight simulator (WST 12R).

The WST 12R will be used by the C-130J Hercules tactical transport aircraft’s personnel and airmen from across the US Air Force for a wide range of training purposes.

In comparison to old systems, the new simulator will provide more customisable training to the forces.

146th AW commander colonel Lisa Nemeth said: “WST 12R will enhance and modernise how our aircrew accomplishes its training because it’s first configurable simulator between ‘HC’ and ‘Slick J’ C-130J aircraft variations that can also be rapidly configured to facilitate training for C-130J block enhancements for 6.0 and 8.1.

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“WST 12R’s block enhancements with modular, rapidly configurable options will immediately benefit C-130J flying wings, including the aircrews from the California ANG’s 129th Rescue Wing at Moffett Field, which operates HC-130J Combat King II aircraft.”

The new system will be the first Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System virtual training simulator that will enhance 146th AW’s aerial firefighting training mission.

146th AW vice-commander colonel Christopher Dougherty said: “Based on historical data, we predict that WST 12R will significantly reduce travel, fuel and training travelling costs by an estimated $6.3m annually.

“Lastly, this simulator will virtually connect to other simulators and training locations to conduct formation airdrop training over a secure network.”