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Fort Leavenworth Inmates Help Build Stryker Simulator For US Army

March 15, 2016 (Photo Credit: Tony Lombardo)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — The Army wants to improve Stryker training, but doesn’t necessarily have the funds for a full-scale close combat tactical trainer with all the simulated bells and whistles.  

For a solution, the service is turning to some computer screens, a fancy joystick and a team of handy prisoners from Fort Leavenworth.

Maj. Mike Stinchfield, chief of the Combat Arms Center – Training Innovation Facility, said the Army is close to finalizing a Stryker simulator, made on the cheap.

Maj. Mike Stinchfield explains the new Stryker simulator undergoing testing.
Photo Credit: Michelle Tan

The idea is to train platoons from the Army’s Stryker brigades with the following:

• 27 laptops.

• Virtual reality headsets

• Computer monitors with an overlay of Stryker controls

• And a joystick and arm rest modeled directly from a Stryker’s controls.

This technology is attached to a “vehicle” frame made of wood and plastic and assembled by the prison population at Leavenworth.

One of these simulators is prominently displayed here at the AUSA Global Symposium & Exhibition. On Tuesday, dozens of ROTC students tried out the trainer, which also incorporates the Army’s Virtual Battlespace 3 game.

The platoon-sized trainer costs about $250,000 to construct, Stinchfield said. By comparison, a Stryker CCTT (like those used for training soldiers on Abrams and Bradleys) would cost about $13.5 million, he added.

A ROTC student tries out the simulated Stryker's virtual reality.
Photo Credit: Tony Lombardo

Within the next seven months, the Army plans to roll the trainer out to various Stryker brigade teams for testing. Feedback will be incorporated into design tweaks, Stinchfield said.

It will be up to Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation decide whether to proceed with production and widespread use, Stinchfield said. 

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