Students working in a simulation  (Source: USAF)
The use of flight simulators has expanded as military budgets shrink

The United States government has been able to save money by increasing the use of flight simulators for pilot training. Simulators haven't been ideal in all scenarios, but they've found a new use during wartime.  Specifically, students are able to test new training techniques without being sent into the air, which is a costly, time-intensive procedure.

Due to the number of deployments, especially for missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, training range time has been scarce for students.  The use of simulators helps ease the $1,000-per-hour cost for flight time.

The 19th Special Operations Squadron, which paid $10,000 per simulator, saves upwards of $3 million per year on flight time due to the simulator.

Students who test the simulator sit in a machine that includes an aviation yoke, one screen including flight simulation, and three screens that mimic flight instruments.

Although simulators cannot replace real flight experience, students can take training materials and flight information home -- and instructors are able to confirm their study habits.

"It helps us know if a student is ... working really hard and just not getting it or if he studied for 30 minutes over the weekend," said Lt. Col. Dagvin Anderson, 19th Special Operations Squadron Commander, in an interview with the Air Force Times.  "It helps tell us even more about the student and his or her work habits.  The technology is finally catching up to what we envisioned it could be so it's a very exciting time right now to be here and see it all come together."

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