A team from the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center, the Program Executive Office for Aviation, and local industry unveiled the first prototype of the Black Hawk Aircrew Trainer at a ribbon-cutting ceremony, here May 24, 2016.
Leaders from both offices lauded the co-development effort as a model for the capabilities Team Redstone provides in support of the soldier. The BAT provides Army UH-60M aviators with a high-fidelity, fully immersive flight training experience. The simulator integrated existing Army models and simulations developed within Team Redstone’s enterprise to expedite the design and assembly of the first prototype.
The BAT project lead, Kristopher Strope, expressed his gratitude to the leadership of the Utility Helicopters Program Office, PEO Aviation and AMRDEC, for providing the necessary resources to develop a higher quality, lower cost UH-60M training platform. The simulator will be fielded to the 1st Cavalry Division Combat Air Brigade at Fort Hood, Texas, in June 2016 and will commence training operations within weeks thereafter.
The Utility Helicopter Project Office, part of PEO Aviation, estimates the new Black Hawk aircrew flight training simulator will save the Army over $4 million per simulator, with a potential total lifecycle sustainment savings of approximately $219 million.
A key enabler for the BAT program was the close involvement of the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence at Fort Rucker, Alabama, and their Directorate of Simulation, which serves as the simulator accreditation executive agent for the USAACE commanding general for 414 flight simulators. “Without the Directorate of Simulation team on board from the start, we wouldn’t have made it,” said Strope. “They worked directly with the engineers, unlike an Original Equipment Manufacturer with a test director.”
On the importance of the government’s ownership of the simulator’s technical data package, the acting chief of AMRDEC’s Systems Simulation, Software and Integration Directorate, George Wiggs, described the BAT program as a prime example of “Research, Development and Engineering Centers working with teams to be integrators of technologies.”
Col. William “Billy” Jackson, Project Manager for the Utility Helicopters Project Office, emphasized the improvements the BAT flight simulator will bring to both the training experience and towards maintaining concurrency as future simulators are fielded. As the Black Hawk Aircrew Trainer moves forward, the lead engineer for the program, Jody Creekmore, will take the helm as the project lead. Future simulators will be fielded across the Army’s active duty combat aviation brigades, in addition to Army National Guard and Army Reserve components.
Strope, the outgoing project lead, encouraged the Black Hawk Aircrew Trainer team to continue its pursuit of excellence, asking, “What can we do today to make sure the Black Hawk Aircrew Trainer is not just a success today, but also for the future?”
Photo credit: The Black Hawk Aircrew Trainer project team unveils the first prototype training simulator, which will be fielded to the 1st Cavalry Division Combat Aviation Brigade at Fort Hood, Texas.