Reaping Simulated Savings

Simulated exercises in a virtual battlespace that merge air, space, and cyber operations not only prepare airmen for future threats, but also save the Air Force millions of dollars a year. The 705th Combat Training Squadron at Kirtland AFB, N.M., executes four virtual exercises annually, all of which have unique objectives, scenarios, personnel, and systems. Most recently, more than 300 joint troops from 18 different locations completed Virtual Flag 11-1 in December. The exercise brought them together for four days in a virtual battlespace over the Pacific. Such exercises typically cost roughly $2 million, although that price tag can bump up to about $2.5 million if coalition partners take part. A similar exercise with live aircraft would cost 20 times as much, says Gary Porter, USAF’s Virtual Flag program manager. The next Virtual Flag is scheduled for March. (Kirtland report by Maj. Heather Baldwin)