When the U.S. Army Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear School's Fox wheeled-armored vehicle course was eliminated nearly two years ago, a $250,000 virtual crew training simulator was left behind.

An idea to retrofit the idle and outdated unit into a Stryker virtual crew trainer has saved the U.S. Army about $400,000, according Capt. Allan Garcia, chief of the 84th Chemical Battalion's Reconnaissance and Surveillance Division, Technical Training Department.

"The initiative cost only man-hours to the organization and saved the Army approximately $390,000, which included $250,000 for the initial Fox installment and $140,000 estimated cost to DEMIL (demilitarize) the Fox hulls," explained Garcia. "Taking the existing simulator and modifying it to get it to work is very cost effective, instead of building a new one."

The Fox simulator was inherited from Fort McClellan, Alabama, in 1999, when the home of the USACBRNS was moved to Fort Leonard Wood, due to Base Realignment and Closure.

A retrofitted Fox virtual crew trainer now provides simulated computer-generated missions to Stryker crews.

Projected costs to move the simulator would have included roughly $70,000 just to bring in the transporters, said Harry Wise, TTD contracted site manager.

"The logistics required to move this virtual crew trainer isn't like a trash bag that you can take to the can," Wise said. "Demilitarization of military equipment like this represents a lot of logistics and money that we don't have to spend now."

Stanley Kusko, R&S Division chief, came up with the initial idea to retrofit the old Fox Hull into a VCT for the Stryker Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Reconnaissance Vehicle course that the school currently offers.
"The infrastructure, cabling, wiring, network and high-resolution screens were already in place as leftover components from the old system," Kusko said. "All we really had to do essentially was unplug the old and install the new."

There was no money involved, just about 80 hours of manpower.

"We had to fabricate some items, in order to increase the realism, but it was very minimal, because we had the existing hardware," Wise said. "We just had to modify it."

Garcia said the retrofitted VCT, which has been up and running for a month now, evolved into a win-win solution for his department, Soldiers and the Army.

"The system has already proven itself to be beneficial with this last snow," Garcia said. "Road conditions prevented operation of the real Stryker vehicle at Training Area 401C, yet with the VCT, we were still able to hold class. Now that we have an upgraded, enhanced simulator, Soldiers are able to train in an environment that very closely matches the Stryker vehicle and meets training and doctrine requirements."

The VCT also adds a safety measure for Soldiers to get realistic, hands-on training before they actually get into the vehicle, he said.