Updated vehicle training simulators for maintainers

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KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. — Air Force technicians maintaining nuclear reentry vehicle systems will soon have upgraded training simulators to help them succeed in their mission of strategic deterrence.

Thanks to a joint effort between the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center and Air Force Global Strike Command, technicians sustaining the Minuteman III weapon system, an intercontinental ballistic missile, will train with simulators that look more like the operational MK12A reentry vehicles they work with daily.

The center’s ICBM program office delivered the first two of ten modified MK12A reentry vehicle training simulators to Air Force Global Strike Command in early August. These improved simulators provide a higher fidelity experience for the technicians sustaining the nuclear warheads in the U.S. Air Force’s inventory. 

“With this updated training equipment, our airmen will be better prepared to sustain the MK12A reentry vehicle in the field and perform their strategic nuclear deterrence mission,” said Col. Scott Jones, director, ICBM Systems Directorate, AFNWC. “Our personnel are proud to deliver these updated simulators because our focus is always on supporting the warfighters.”

First developed in 1969 for the MK12 reentry vehicle, the simulators were last modified in 1979 to incorporate the electrical checkout capabilities of the modified MK12A reentry vehicle. Until now, the majority of the training simulators had both outdated MK12 and operational MK12A capabilities, while some had the original MK12 capabilities.

In 2015, the Lockheed Martin Company was awarded a contract to modify all of the reentry vehicle training simulators to make them look and operate more like today’s operational MK12A. With these updates, airmen can perform higher fidelity training to gain proficiency, check the vehicle’s final assembly, and check the reentry system’s targeting function.

“The successful delivery of these simulators is a good example of our commitment to ensuring the highest standards are met for our nuclear weapons systems,” said Maj. Gen. Scott Jansson, AFNWC commander and Program Executive Officer for Strategic Systems.

At the conclusion of the contract on Nov. 30, 2016, the three operational Minuteman III wings at Malmstrom AFB, Montana; F.E. Warren AFB, Wyoming, and Minot AFB, North Dakota, as well as a test flight unit at Vandenberg AFB, California, and a training unit at Sheppard AFB, Texas, will have fully functional, updated MK12A reentry-vehicle training simulators.

The nearly 500 personnel in the center’s ICBM Systems Directorate are responsible for the lifecycle management of the current Minuteman III and future ICBM weapons systems. Located at Hill AFB, Utah, this directorate develops, acquires and supports silo-based ICBMs, as well as provides logistics support to the warfighters. It has operating locations at Vandenberg AFB, F.E. Warren AFB, Malmstrom AFB, and Minot AFB.

The Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center is headquartered at Kirtland AFB, New Mexico, where it synchronizes all aspects of nuclear materiel management as part of the Air Force Materiel Command and in direct support of the Air Force Global Strike Command. It has about 1,000 people at 18 locations worldwide.