Science and Technology News

Friday, February 3, 2012

Weapon System Trainer to Save Taxpayer’s Dollars

By Airman 1st Class Armando A. Schwier-Morales, 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

The first official KC-135 Stratotanker Boom Operator Weapon System Trainer (BOWST) in Air Mobility Command (AMC), slated to save the Air Force millions annually, opened during a ceremony Jan. 9 here.

Training boom operators to perform in-flight refueling requires a tanker and a receiver. An eight-hour tanker sortie cost more than $49,000 without factoring in the receiver costs. The BOWST can train boom operators for approximately $600 an hour.

“The BOWST came about because the Air Force wants to drive down the cost of training and get out of the air and on the ground to save money,” said David Kramer, the CEA Systems site manager.

McConnell Air Force Base, an AMC base, fosters a culture of excellence, develops the next generation of leaders, sets and achieves goals and provides in-flight refueling anytime anywhere.

“The KC-135 BOWST we are receiving today will play a vital role in helping train our aircrews to meet our global air refueling mission,” said Col. Ricky Rupp, the 22nd Air Refueling Wing commander. “The BOWST represents our continued commitment to using precious resources in order to enhance training while simultaneously cutting costs.”

The BOWST system enables instructors to test students in a wide variety of scenarios while receiving real-time information on the student’s progress, in a safe environment.

“What it allows us to do is recreate training actions for boom operators without spending money on fuel, maintenance or flying hours,” said Mike Adams, a CEA Systems boom operator instructor. “It also allows us to focus on various student qualification requirements, emergency procedures and other predeployment actions.”

McConnell AFB’s BOWST is the first of 10 to be installed at other KC-135 locations Air Force wide. Standing together Lt. Col. William Stowe, the 344th Air Refueling Squadron commander, and Airman 1st Class Joshua Garrett, 350th ARS boom operator, cut the ribbon opening the BOWST for training and savings.

“Cutting the ribbon was amazing,” Garrett said, “It was a great feeling to be part of it. Making the (BOWST) first contact was nothing new, but getting to do it in this system was unbelievable. They made it look very realistic.”

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