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Special Warfare TACP training incorporates VR tools

By 1st Lt. Jeremy Huggins | Special Warfare Training Wing | Sept. 21, 2020

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-CHAPMAN TRAINING ANNEX, Texas —

The Air Force Special Warfare Training Wing has incorporated virtual reality software to aid in Joint Terminal Attack Controller, or JTAC, training for Tactical Air Control Party enlisted and officer candidates at Joint Base San Antonio.

This virtual reality training called the Joint Terminal Control Training Rehearsal System, or JTC TRS, is part of the final block of the high-stress, 106-day TACP Apprentice Course that trains candidates to be TACPs and tests their physical and mental capabilities. This training is run by the 353rd Special Warfare Training Squadron headquartered at the JBSA-Chapman Training Annex.

 “JTACs communicate with ground commanders and aircraft to destroy enemy targets”, said Tech. Sgt. Scott Eubanks, 353 Special Warfare Training Squadron TACP Apprentice Course block 4 flight chief. “The JTC TRS provides students with a scenario where they can coordinate with simulated commanders and pilots, and see the effects their actions have on the battlefield in real-time.”

In October 2019, the wing began using this virtual reality system to give candidates the opportunity to communicate with aircraft and face simulated enemies that attack them in order to create more well-rounded JTACs.

“While there is nothing better than actually getting our candidates out in the field to communicate with real aircraft and drop live ordinance, this system provides a feasible alternative that we can run right here at JBSA,” Eubanks said.

The simulator is comprised of two main areas, a control area and a JTAC area. Two instructors sit in the control area and communicate with the student to provide instruction, name targets and simulate the communication a JTAC would have with aircraft during a real mission. The student sits in the JTAC area and from there has access to simulations of equipment they would have in the field. This includes a radio, a GPS and a tripod with binoculars along with a range finder.

Students interact with the simulation through its main display screen where battlefield information is displayed. Students are surrounded by speakers to simulate the sounds of aircraft overhead and ordinance being detonated.

“We’re continually refining our systems and training to best prepare our students for real-world scenarios,” Eubanks said. “Our goal is to ensure our students are ready and able to meet mission requirements once they complete training and move to operational units.”