Col. Michael Curry, 58th Special Operations Wing commander, and Lt. Col. Benjamin Bryant, 58th Training Squadron commander, cut a ceremonial ribbon Jan. 15 at Kirtland Air Force Base, officially welcoming the Enhanced Fuselage Trainer.
The new, one-of-a-kind, ground-based device, abbreviated “EFuT,” provides highly realistic simulation capabilities that will enable training for approximately 200 MC-130J and HC-130J loadmasters and special mission aviators annually.
Maj. Luke Sandbeck-Moriarty, 58th TRS fixed-wing program manager and HC-130J instructor pilot, said the aircraft body is “enhanced” because it’s connected to the instructor operator station, the structure that houses the control room and computer systems.
“This project has been a huge undertaking. It’s been five years and $19 million,” he said.
Bryant, the 58th TRS commander, spoke at the ceremony.
“This is a rare opportunity, to be able to officially unveil a training device that is almost six years in the making. The EFuT represents what this facility is all about. A facility that is dedicated to quality training of our career enlisted aviators. The hundreds of people spending thousands of hours to make this day a reality share a common purpose – continuing a legacy of excellence, providing the joint enterprise with disciplined professionals, capable of our nation’s most demanding missions,” he said.
Curry thanked the 58th SOW’s mission partners, the New Mexico Air National Guard’s 150th SOW, saying the NMANG Airmen are “instrumental in all the training we do here.”
The 58th SOW commander also shared his personal and professional perspective on the EFuT.
“Being a former MC-130 pilot, I like to think that this aircraft has finally made it home. This trainer is going to ‘take flight’ every day and every night. The most-taxed resource we have in the 58th and 150th SOW is our ground trainers. Every day, we struggle with how we’re going to schedule those, to make sure we’ve got the right training, so every ounce of jet fuel that we burn, every minute we spend with engines running, is very productive. These ground trainers allow students to do things that we wouldn’t allow them to do inside the airplane. Students can come out here and focus on the things they need to, to make their time on the airplane the most efficient,” he said.
What is now the EFuT arrived in sections at Kirtland on flatbed trailers in December 2019. The apparatus had started service as an MC-130J aircraft, and had previously been converted into an AC-130J that then sustained irreparable damage during a test flight. After a year of final modifications, it has been installed in a World War II hangar on the base’s west side, a 58th TRS facility known as “The Monster Garage.”
Robert J. Brown, 58th TRS quality assurance specialist and flight simulator/aircrew training devices contracting officer representative, said instructors can induce malfunctions and emergencies, testing whether students notice them and react appropriately.
Sandbeck-Moriarty summarized the EFuT’s two main benefits.
“The impact that this device brings is better-quality training for loadmasters and special mission aviators, and it frees up an aircraft for actual flying operations that was previously used for this ground training.”