Military Aviation

USAF Sent RC-135 Crews to UK to train on RC-135 Simulators

The RC-135 mission crew simulators in fact were affected by last March floodwaters and some of the training had to be carried out at RAF Waddington, U.K.

The recent flooding at Offutt Air Force Base (AFB), Nebraska has affected crew training on the RC-135 intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft there, Gen. Mike Holmes, head of Air Combat Command (ACC), has disclosed.

The mission crew simulators in fact were affected by last March floodwaters and some of the training had to be carried out at RAF Waddington, U.K.

“Fortunately, we’re able to take advantage of some allied capabilities, the [Royal Air Force’s] simulator capabilities,” Holmes explained. “We’re able to train on the airplane; it’ll have an impact, though, on our capacity to train.”

Being the major command that oversees the 55th Wing assigned to Offutt, ACC has been sending crew members and instructors “to RAF Waddington, U.K., and Greenville, Texas, to take advantage of simulators at those locations,” spokeswoman Alexandria Worley told Military.com.

This print is available in multiple sizes from AircraftProfilePrints.com – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. RC-135S Cobra Ball 55th Wing, 45th Reconnaissance Squadron, 61-2663 – Offutt AFB, NE – 2015

But since those simulators “do not have the same capacity that the simulators at Offutt did,” the wing is also using RC-135 aircraft on the flight line to “provide some basic equipment training and flying additional training sorties in order to provide higher-end training that was accomplished in [Offutt’s] simulators,” Worley pointed out.

According to Air Force Magazine, the flood impacted at least three of the base’s RC-135 ISR variant simulators.

Two pilot flight deck simulators were down for “one month” until they were restored April 15, Worley said.

But she added that it will cost more than $200 million to repair the damaged mission crew simulators.

“With limited capability, the simulators will not be able to connect with other simulators and members will not be able to train simultaneously. The mission crew simulators are estimated to be restored to full, pre-flood capability approximately 17 months after funding is received,” Worley said.

ACC trains 1,063 airmen on those simulators annually, including roughly 300 as brand-new crew, she said in an email. There are normally 10 to 15 RC-135 aircraft stationed at Offutt.

“The simulators provided 75 to 80 percent of the mission crew training,” Worley said. “ACC mitigation efforts can partially, but not completely, offset the training capacity lost when the simulators were destroyed. This is resulting in a bottleneck in training where mission crew members are waiting to be trained.”

Like large portions of Nebraska, Offutt AFB personnel battled floodwaters which started to creep onto the installation on Mar. 15.

Offutt, home of the 55th Wing, evacuated and relocated nine aircraft as a result — eight RC-135 Rivet Joint reconnaissance aircraft and one of Global Strike Command‘s E-4B Nightwatch aircraft, more commonly known as the “Doomsday” plane.

An aerial view of Offutt Air Force Base and the surrounding areas affected by flood waters Mar. 17, 2019.

Photo credit: U.S. Air Force

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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