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NEWS | Oct. 13, 2021

Alpena CRTCs LMOC optimizes training, saves time

By Master Sgt. David Eichaker Michigan National Guard Public Affairs

The Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center (CRTC), one of Michigan’s three Air National Guard bases, is focusing on fighter pilot efficiency through Live Mission Operations Capability (LMOC).

“One of the LMOC focus points is to give time back to the warfighter, allowing pilots to focus on their tactical training,” said Lt. Col. Nicholas Smith, LMOC and range officer-in-charge at the CRTC. “The overall vision of LMOC is ‘Better Training, Faster.’ We’re looking to accelerate the change and make things better for those warfighters so they get the most out of their training cycle.”

“The program is designed by Air Force Materiel Command, but funded by Air Combat Control (ACC), and that is why we are focusing on the fighter pilot needs,” he said.

The Alpena CRTC is one of four unique readiness installations located in the United States and is fully operated by the Michigan National Guard. Military units come from all over the United States to train at the installation, including active duty and reserve components of the Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy, and Coast Guard. Alpena CRTC, part of the National All Domain Warfighting Center, has 17,000 square miles of special use airspace to fit the needs of military units to help ensure warfighting capabilities. The CRTC also has training areas for ground tactics that can assist commanders in understanding urban warfare with the use of the Military Operations in Urban Training (MOUT) facility.

“The LMOC is really getting after readiness by bringing our range and airspace instrumentation into the 21st century,” said Col. Rossi, commander, Alpena CRTC. “Today’s warfighter needs the ability to train daily to higher end threats and larger scale conflicts, whether that is by live, virtual, or constructive means.”

“The LMOC facilitates training between geographically separated units and allows the warfighter to spend more time on their tactics versus the administrative tasks of preparing, executing, and debriefing scenario-isms or mission enablers,” he said.

LMOC itself is mostly computer-based and utilizes updated software, but also ensures the legacy systems will be modernized for the future. The program also focusses on integrating previous systems, which preserves financial investments.

“We can’t forget about the legacy systems because there are millions of dollars invested in those,” said Smith. “We have to figure out how to get the older systems integrated with new aircraft and training technology while bringing the new systems on board.”

The LMOC’s focus on pilot training can reinforce principles, techniques, and scenarios pilots could face. The LMOC enhances decision making while strengthening pilot skills. Through LMOC technology, operators can add virtual components as well as live components to scenarios, challenging the warfighter to train in more complex scenarios.

“We have the capability to push out additional virtual threats representing enemy aircraft and threats for the pilots to react to,” said Smith. “I can add additional airframes and threats over their Link-16 display and correlate real world threat emissions as well as surrogate threats on the ground for them to react to.”

“Additionally, I can add on blue forces to clear the air picture, prep the battle field, and create a more cohesive mission scenario for pilots versus their just doing what they always do. This can get them to think about how they integrate with a bigger Air Force and a larger joint picture,” he said.

The LMOC mission also saves pilots time when it comes to preflight planning and debriefs.

“Pilots typically come in a few hours before take-off so they can start planning, take care of administrative duties, develop scenarios, and get all the training events set up before flying,” said Smith. “We can decrease that mission planning time so they don’t have to worry about planning out their whole scenario and can focus on real-world training.”

The LMOC capabilities also save time post-flight.

Prior to LMOC, after landing the crews needed to upload their sortie data, trouble shoot computer issues, and the instructor needed to quickly review the sortie to have an idea of the focus points while the rest of the crews waited for the formal debrief to start.

“When they return for debrief, I have their fight up on the board ready for review and already highlighted potential areas to debrief,” said Smith. “These are the lessons learned which now they can see right away, expediting the debrief, giving time back to the pilots and their families.”

One of LMOC’s goals is to be globally connected through a training environment. This includes fighter jets with different security classifications.

“We have fighter jets that operate at a very high level of security and other aircraft with lower levels security,” said Smith. “The program takes all that data at the various classification levels and the computer software is going to figure out which information goes to which aircraft or participant.”

“This will also give aircrew more time back that would otherwise be spent on getting authorizations prior to disseminating information, or holding multiple debrief sessions at each of the respective classification levels,” he said.

Another CRTC LMOC goal is full implementation throughout a multi-state region involving states east of Michigan.

“Our LMOC covers units in our region as we support New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Vermont, Pennsylvania, and Ohio,” said Smith. “Our ultimate goal is to integrate all the live and virtual infrastructure throughout the Air Force and Department of Defense so everyone trains together, starting at the regional level and at some point, going global.”