OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. --
Airmen of the 595th Command and Control Group at Offutt Air Force Base are adding a new E-4B to their inventory of survivable command and control platforms.
However, this ‘Doomsday plane’ exists only in the virtual realm and is the result of a team of multimedia contract professionals who visited recently to meticulously scan the Boeing 747 inside and out.
“Once the 3D scans and data capture are performed…they will take the information and create learning modules that will be used by the 595th C2G maintainers, operators and National Airborne Operations Center personnel for initial qualification and recurring training,” said Scott Petty, 595th C2G Virtual Reality Training Laboratory manager.
With only four E-4Bs in the Air Force inventory, accomplishing training can be an issue at times for the 595th C2G. The weeklong scanning process will result in a hyper-realistic digital jet that will help the unit improve its training tempo.
“The E-4B is a high demand, low supply asset that has a vast range of missions,” Petty said. “The VR modules will aid with training of personnel independent of needing a physical aircraft being available.”
Over the next three months story boards will be created to outline how the learning module will flow and how the user will engage within the VR environment.
“At about the six-month point, we will begin reviewing the modules, make any final changes, and ensure the VR modules meet or exceed our requirements,” Petty said.
Petty said the whole process is referred to as extended reality or XR. XR is an umbrella term used to include VR, augmented reality, mixed reality and everything in between.
“The Air Force recognized the need to leverage emerging technologies to provide the best training to the Airman,” said the former E-4B crew chief.
Since 2021, the VR training lab has commissioned four training modules specific to the E-4B with the current project adding an additional seven modules.
“We have three virtual reality training systems with plans of expanding,” said Petty. “The 595th C2G’s vision is to establish the premier virtual reality training program in Air Force Global Strike Command.”