VR Future is Ready Now
By Staff Sgt. Peter Reft, 27th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs
/ Published April 23, 2021
CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- Airmen of the 27th Special Operations Wing got a glimpse of the future when the U.S. Air Force Air Education and Training Command (AETC) Integrated Technology Platform (ITP) team demonstrated a complete virtual reality training program for the MC-130J Commando II aircraft April 16, 2021.
Since the ITP’s inception in 2019, Airmen, contractors and partners achieved a fully operational VR acquisition and roll-out plan enabling wings across all major commands to assimilate new technology into their units. Col. Robert Masaitis, 27 SOW commander, is ready to take the next step.
“It has come a long way since the first one I saw a few years ago, and nobody has to convince me this is what we need,” Masaitis stated. “I am looking for funding and would love to roll it out across the wing. I would do it tomorrow if I could.”
ITP team members from around the Air Force showed 27 SOW leaders VR implementation at other bases and how to attain programs as soon as possible.
“A lot of what ITP represents is acquisition reform, and we want to get the word out that not only is there a great VR product, but we have this supremely easy process establish this technology into squadrons right now,” said Master Sgt. Dace, ITP event coordinator.
Instead of squadrons having to request funds from the wing or their major command, now they can send training requirements to the ITP office which has the ability to streamline the contract process for any unit.
“Our authority to operate allows any unit to come to us with their program requirements and we can fulfill that request within four weeks, a process that normally takes six to eight months,” said Masoud Rasti, ITP program manager from Randolph Air Force Base, Texas. “This program has zero overhead cost because it is all government owned and operated.”
With zero overhead costs or commitments to timed contracts and recurring subscriptions, squadrons can put advanced technology into the hands of Airmen, giving them a competitive advantage over units that rely on slower and more costly training models.
“Our Airmen can get into a VR scenario without worrying about breaking a multi-million-dollar aircraft, perform a multitude of virtual tasks as many times as they want, and then have the confidence and knowledge to perform maintenance on real aircraft,” said Dace.
From nothing to a fully realized training program in just two years, ITP teams enable decision makers to get on board and acquire technology efficiently and rapidly.
“If you look at units such as Little Rock, Dyess and Lackland Air Force Bases, they are already having classes graduate with higher scores in less time and at lower cost,” said John Brooks, CEO of Mass Virtual, program developer partnered with AETC. “We’ve integrated learning and asset management systems that will support the Air Force in any future distribution methods without any barriers, and now we are seeing an explosive growth of this Integrated Technology Platform.”
ITP coordinators such as Master Sgt. Dace look forward to taking advantage of the technological growth and enhancing the capabilities of squadrons across the Air Force.
“My favorite thing about this entire innovation process is that actual reform is happening now, and it is beneficial for us to take advantage of this technology, enhance training capabilities and make it more desirable for Airmen,” said Dace.
“These programs are relevant to all aspects of the Air Force, not just maintenance and aviation,” he added. “The opportunities and advantages of the ITP are endless.”