Read it and reap with 432nd Attack Squadron

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Sadie Colbert
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
The 432nd Attack Squadron's mission is to find, exploit and neutralize enemies by flying the remotely piloted MQ-9 Reaper, but even the high flying 432nd ATKS "Marauders" need a little assistance now and then.

Earlier this year, Ellsworth's 28th Communications and Civil Engineer Squadrons coordinated with the tenant unit to help install a smaller version of the Reaper simulator, a predator mission aircrew training systems lite, designed to help pilots and sensor operators further develop mission tactics used against enemies.

"As the new kids on the block, we train because we want to be the best at what we do," said Capt. Nate, 432nd ATKS pilot. "The more we train, the better we are at it, the more we can come up with cutting edge tactics."

The equipment simulates an active environment by putting a display on the screen, allowing the sensor operator to move the targeting pod around and look at the ground and at different targets so they can conduct acquisition training and put weapons on target.

"Worrying about time and money consumption is a huge burden off our plate," Nate said. "Having the simulator alleviates our schedule here, allows us to get our training done and frees up our instructors so they can be here to instruct."

Staff Sgt. Kelly Rossmiller, 28th CS NCO in charge of cybertransport systems, added it makes it easier for the unit because they can also perform launch and recovery operations, full mission operations and practice launching planes off the ground.

In the past, the 432nd ATKS was not able to participate in many mass training exercises because of their budget and manning.

"Now we are getting incorporated into training opportunities like Red Flag and Navy exercises," Nate said.

With this system installation, Ellsworth's squadrons contributed to saving approximately $150,000 and around 7,800 man-hours a year alone by making the simulator easily accessible.

"Airmen had to complete all of their training within a [seven day] time limit," Nate said. "Before having the simulator, if we came up with a new tactic the next month, they couldn't just hop on a simulator and practice it. They had to wait a year for their next temporary deployment to get sharp on the tactic."

The project has been ongoing since 2013, starting with renovations of the training building and the installation of the PMATS lite. The project is currently scheduled to be completed the summer of 2017, when the entire simulator is scheduled to be put into the new building.

Nate added they are able to meet training objectives using the PMATS lite even with few software limitations.

"It's funny not being a part of the wing here, but we still have to rely on the base support for just about everything," Nate said, referring to the squadron's new role as a tenant unit at Ellsworth since the base became part of Air Force Global Strike Command in October 2015, while the 432nd ATKS remained under Air Combat Control. "We definitely need all of the infrastructure provided by the 28th Bomb Wing. We really appreciate [it]."