FORT RUCKER, Ala. (January 22, 2015) -- Under the Army Force Generation cycle, deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan revolved around unit training events designed for a specific mission.

As deployments decrease, and the focus shifts to home station training, simulations play a major training support role to meet the demands of a wider array of potential missions.

In the past, the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence Directorate of Simulation hosted culminating training events, known as Aviation training exercises, to train deploying combat Aviation brigades. Now, the focus of the DOS has shifted to training students in various courses, according to Col. Stephen Seitz, Director of Simulation for USAACE.

"The USAACE now conducts a dozen simulation-based exercises that recur on a weekly, bi-monthly or quarterly cycle. The result is that Aviation officers, warrant officers, non-commissioned officers and enlisted Soldiers are all being challenged with dynamic and interactive course capstone exercises, in accordance with the Army Learning Model, and they're being exposed to training enablers and examples of how they can be employed at their home stations," Seitz said.

Students who are exposed to Army simulations while attending courses at the USAACE gain a better understanding of what they can do at home station to support an array of possible missions, according to Seitz.

Recent technology upgrades to the Aviation Combined Arms Tactical Trainer, including Aircraft Survivability Equipment upgrades, improve the fidelity and scope of collective training capabilities.

The AVCATT, which is Aviation's collective training device, can link to the Live, Virtual, Constructive-Integrated Training Environment at home stations to provide interoperability with other training systems to include virtual tank simulators.

Students gain exposure to the AVCATT's home station training capabilities during the Aviation leadership exercise, which is the culminating exercise for student pilots who are earning their Aviator wings.

The AVCATT is used to conduct the capstone exercises for the Aviation Warrant Officer Advanced Course, the Aviation Mission Survivability Officer's Course, and the Aviation Master Gunner's Course.

Development efforts for the AVCATT focus on concurrency -- matching the cockpits, including hardware and software, with the current fleet fielded at each home station, according to Seitz.

The Army's Aviation Restructure Initiative is also driving changes to simulation-based support requirements by adding Shadow Unmanned Aircraft Systems to restructured attack reconnaissance troops and squadrons. The plan is for these units to use a combination of AH-64 Apaches and Shadow UAS to conduct missions formerly executed by OH-58D Kiowa Warriors, which are being phased out of the Army's inventory.

USAACE is also developing the Aviation Reconnaissance Leader's Course with UAS simulation integrated throughout each phase of the exercise. The course will be driven by use of the Army's new gaming-based training system, Virtual Battlespace 3, and the AVCATT. Efforts are also under way to make the AVCATT interoperable with the Longbow Crew Trainer and the Universal Mission Simulator, which is the high-fidelity Shadow/Gray Eagle UAS simulator.

The Kiowa aircraft divestiture brought another change to the simulations scene. As Kiowa training is no longer conducted at Fort Rucker, the aircraft and supporting cockpit procedure trainers and flight simulators have been taken out of service.

The ARI includes transition to a replacement helicopter for the TH-67A Creek trainer. The first UH-72A cockpit procedure trainer is now in service at Fort Rucker. The plan is for the new cockpit procedure trainers and simulators to be phased in to support training of instructor pilots initially and later student pilots.

The simulator fleet in Warrior Hall is also being transformed to meet new throughput requirements. The plan is for CH-47D full-motion simulators to be replaced by more CH-47Fs, since the majority of the Army's fleet has been upgraded. As Black Hawk training transitions to a hybrid course with students flying L models and M models, the UH-60A/L full-motion simulators will be replaced by UH-60Ms.

"Over the last fiscal year, USAACE Aviators and student pilots conducted more than 114,000 simulated flight training hours using crew and collective flight simulators," Seitz said.

Simulation support continues to evolve to meet training requirements.

"Using the Army Learning Model Concept, we have developed more interactive training and executed 89 exercises in support of more than 2,400 students during the last year," said Maj. Steven Waldrop, DOS Exercise Branch chief and simulation operations officer.

The goal is to keep Army Aviation on the cutting edge through simulations training.

"We are improving an array of simulation-based exercises to train future leaders to exploit home station training capabilities," Seitz said. "These efforts enable the Aviation Branch to lead the Army in executing innovative simulation-based training."