Helicopter Pilots Earn Their Wings at Warrior Hall
Client: U.S. Army Aviation Center, Fort Rucker
Location: Daleville, Ala.
Industry: Public Sector, Defense
Number of Employees: 11,500
- Provide cost-effective simulation training for helicopter pilots
- Maintain close to 100% availability
- Build Warrior Hall from scratch
- Provide integration and program management
- Warrior Hall is the largest helicopter training facility in the world
- More than 1,500 student pilots train there annually and receive more than 90,000 hours of training
- Flight simulators maintained at 99.8% availability
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U.S. Army aviators must undergo intensive training in combat-like conditions before they are deployed to the battlefield. Seeking to place a stronger emphasis on simulator training to save money on fuel, the Army needed a state-of-the-art training facility, and turned to CSC and its team of subcontractors to build and manage it.
CSC serves as a systems integrator and program manager for the U.S. Army Flight School XXI (FSXXI). Using an innovative approach to structuring a long-term defense contract, CSC built, owns and operates Warrior Hall at Fort Rucker in Alabama.
Warrior Hall, a 136,000 square-foot building and the world’s largest helicopter simulation facility, currently houses 38 full-motion flight simulators, with five more on the way.
CSC’s work at the facility is covered by a training support services contract that is valued at more than $1.5 billion over 19.5 years. The agreement with the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) is unique in that it is a long-term services contract, rather than a typical acquisition.
Just like the real thing
Fort Rucker’s FSXXI program serves as the initial entry training program for Army helicopter pilots. Pilots supplement actual flying with classroom training and instructor-led training in leading-edge flight simulators.
When the original FSXXI contract was signed in 2003, CSC was tasked with building a new generation of advanced helicopter simulators. The chief goal at Warrior Hall is to prepare pilots for their missions by providing a virtual environment that closely resembles what they will experience in the real world. The high level of fidelity in the cockpit configuration, the flight characteristics and the terrain databases allow the Army to use simulation to train pilots for tasks that were never before possible.
“When pilots leave Fort Rucker for an assignment out in the field, they are fully trained in their respective platforms,” says Bill Cheverie, CSC’s deputy program director for the FSXXI contract. The simulators have the ability to shoot, move and communicate, just as actual aircraft do. Cheverie says, “These are probably the highest fidelity simulators you are going to see in either the civilian world or the military.”
CSC and its team are meeting the chief goal of having pilots ready to fly in the field on Day 1 after graduating from flight school. Brendan Ballert, who went through helicopter training at Warrior Hall and is currently a business development analyst for CSC, says, “The simulators are a great training tool. The skills build upon each other whether you are in the simulator or in the aircraft. I was immediately deployed to Iraq after flight school, and felt completely prepared.”
FSXXI showcases CSC’s ability to integrate simulation and training capabilities and put together a strong team of industry leaders. CSC’s contract with the U.S. Army’s Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training & Instrumentation (PEO STRI) is not a typical defense contractor arrangement. When procuring hardware such as a flight simulator, the DoD will normally build a facility on its installation and execute an acquisition contract to make the purchase. Then, the military would hire a contractor to install the simulators and establish a life-cycle support contract for maintaining the equipment.
This is not the case with FSXXI. After an intensive period of research with industry and government stakeholders, PEO STRI decided to go with a services contract rather than an outright acquisition. CSC and other subcontractors purchased land off post and built Warrior Hall from scratch. CSC serves as program manager, working with our partners to provide and schedule the facility, simulators, transportation and security for the pilots, as well as other essential services.
CSC is also closely involved with developing and maintaining the terrain databases that provide the true-to-life imagery the pilots view in the simulators. When a pilot enters the virtual cockpit, he or she is able to call up any number of geo-specific terrains. Ballert says the terrain databases are extremely realistic, down to such small details as houses. “They try to make it as lifelike as possible. It feels as if you are flying a real aircraft.”
Warrior Hall hosts new pilots, experienced pilots and even pilots from foreign countries. More than 90,000 hours of simulation training are provided to more than 1,500 student pilots each year, which helps the DoD save on training costs.
JIM BATTEY is a writer for CSC’s digital marketing team.