FORT KNOX, Ky. –
Train like you fight!
It’s a mantra that could not be truer than in the world of Army aviation.
Climbing into the cockpit of a Black Hawk to take to the sky is all in a day’s work for an Army aviator. While most people who observe a UH-60 piercing through the sky may not think much of it, there’s a lot more to it with the real work beginning before a pilot ever takes off.
“We’re taking him through cloudy conditions.”
On this day, an aviator is sharpening his skills in a new state-of-the-art simulator called the Black Hawk Aircrew Trainer or BAT.
“This is a pretty new system here for Fort Knox. We’ve had the BAT here on site for three months. Army-wide we’re the twelfth BAT in the system to be operational. We’re actually the first BAT to be both mike model as well as lima model [UH-60M/UH-60L] configured so we can go back and we can support both mike model guys, lima model guys essentially more units throughout the Army Reserve,” said Kevin Graham, Instructor Operator of the Fort Knox BAT system.
The BAT replaces the previous Transportable Black Hawk Operations System (T-BOS).
It is inside the new trainer where helicopter pilots get more realistic refresher training and an opportunity to hone their skills.
Inside the BAT, various scenarios are thrown at aviators to include changing terrain, night or bad weather conditions. It’s an opportunity for them to go over instrument flight rules (IFR) flying for precision approaches for conditions that are not ideal.
“The nice thing is the ability here is that you can set it right at that threshold where you’re either comfortable or you’re pushing yourself a little bit beyond where you’re comfortable and it’s also a safer environment,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Paul Schroader, an aviator with Charlie Company, 5-159th GSAB based at Fort Knox, Kentucky.
Pilots like Schroader praise the BAT as a step up from the T-BOS, giving them more realistic training.
“We had a different type trainer before, that had some still really good features but not quite as feature-rich as what this one is and this is definitely a great improvement. You get inside and compare it to a video game and it’s really higher-resolution, frame rate and a lot more advanced as far as making it more realistic.”
It’s all controlled at a computer. As the IO, Graham is able to work from the system’s six different monitors to quickly replicate and switch conditions to see how pilots adjust and adapt to change.
“This simulates and gives us the ability to give a pilot an absolute worst case scenario so that he can get used to seeing how bad it can get,” added Graham.
Qualified Army Aviators are able to take advantage of the BAT’s innovative technology, allowing for a lot more valuable training time.
“The T-BOS was an older system. It had a lot of fabricated parts to try to replicate the cockpit where this is actually a live cockpit and we’re able to take actual electronic components from the real aircraft and actually implement them in here using the new hardware and software designed at Redstone Arsenal with the BAT team,” said Scott Robbins, a contractor with PULAU Corporation.
Pilots work on three primary areas inside the simulator, which include instruments to see how they react to extreme weather conditions, emergency procedures to deal with legitimate engine failures, and tactical operations where they focus on mission survivability and how to deal with and avoid threats.
It also gives aviators a chance to improve on any areas they feel weak in without jeopardizing their safety or a multi-million dollar aircraft.
“It’s a great training tool inside the cockpit everything is simulated right down to the door handle. The guys are getting good training out of it and cost dollar per hour is obviously significantly less than a real aircraft,” said Graham.
In an environment where winning matters, this new system is definitely helping aviators Rise Above.