SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE (KAUZ) - On Thursday, Sheppard Air Force Base hosted a technology summit where the main focus was to develop virtual reality and augmented reality to supplement the current maintenance training program.
U.S. Air Force Director of Training Operations Dr. Lynn List said SAFB was the hub for the idea since it is the largest training base in the command. SAFB has three training groups compared to other bases which only have one.
"We are moving towards innovation and technology," List said.
That includes developing virtual reality and augmented reality training for portions of around 600 Air Force maintenance courses.
Airmen will use virtual reality headsets to see what they are doing as they learn.
"Being able to visualize and see something that maybe sounds complex but when you see it you say 'oh I understand what it means now,'" U.S. Air Force Major General Tim Leahy, 2nd Air Force Commander, said.
More airmen will learn together at the same time. They will train in multiple simulated situations, using the same controller and headset over and over again.
Without the virtual reality program that training gets expensive.
"You have to buy material, you have to have an instructor available, you have to have a training lab or a simulated environment for them to work on," List said.
Maj. Gen. Leahy said the virtual reality training can also save jet fuel by reducing the amount of time needed to fly, save money in buying new jets and reducing the time it takes to create a pilot.
"It takes a year to make a pilot if I can do it in 11 months," Maj. Gen. Leahy said. "I just saved a month."
He said the new training program is one of the biggest changes to air force training since he went through training himself 30 years ago.
Even though he said he knows it will be difficult, he said hopes the new maintenance training program is something that can help create faster, more efficient airmen.
"We have to look at ways to use our manpower more effectively and more efficiently and using augmented reality to assist us helping us close that manpower gap," Maj. Gen. Leahy said.
He also said this cutting-edge technology may help the air force in recruiting.