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Academy expands capabilities, capacity with multi-domain lab

Lieutenant Gen. Richard Clark, Superintendent of the Air Force Academy, tries out a flight simulator installed in the school’s new multi-domain laboratory, Sept. 17, 2021. 

Story by Ray Bowden, photos by Dean Miller

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. — The Air Force Academy’s top military and strategic studies expert said the school’s new multi-domain laboratory would give cadets a clear and accurate view of battle operations, Sept. 17.

Housed in Fairchild Hall, the $9.5 million lab opened for business to cadets and faculty with a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by staff, faculty and school industry partners that day.

The lab contains two flight bays filled with flight simulators, equipment and learning aids to simulate drone missions, air and ground battle scenarios. Plans are in the works for a third bay to open early next year, said Col. Tom Swaim, the school’s military and strategic studies’ department head.

Swaim said the lab offers cadets and their instructors extra layers of realism to a core course, “air power and joint operations strategy.”

“The lab will expand the capabilities and capacity of the Air Force and Space Force,” he said.  ”It’s going to touch thousands of cadets in the future and is specifically designed to produce warrior-scholars. It simulates operations by integrating 24 flight simulators that can be replicate any air, surface or sub-surface manned weapon system, 12 remotely piloted aircraft simulators, 12 intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance-electronic-warfare simulators, and over 40 operations command center work stations.”

The lab can be configured for learning across all strategic, operational and tactical levels of war.

“Warfare is consistently evolving,” said MSS instructor Maj. Catherine Brewer in July, when the school announced the lab would open this summer. “As we commission new second lieutenants, they are expected to lead in an ever-changing and complex joint environment. The lab provides hands-on experiences to support their operational missions.”

Swaim said the lab is a boon to the Defense Department’s warfighting operations.

“Our strategic competitors will see that the Air and Space Force takes its warfighting education serious,” he said.

This is the first lab of its type at any U.S. Service academy.

[Visit www.usafa.af.mil/News/News-Display/Article/2707209/technology-propels-military-strategy-at-af-academy to see the last report on the multi-dimension lab.]

More Photos by Dean Miller

Left to right: Lt. Gen. Richard Clark, U.S. Air Force Academy superintendent; Cadet 1st Class Christopher Dornak, cadet in charge of the school’s multi-domain lab; Brig. Gen. Linell Letendre, Academy dean; and Col. Tom Swaim, military and strategic studies’ department head, cut a ribbon to herald-in the opening of a new multi dimension lab, Sept. 17, 2021. The $9.5 million lab opened for business with a ceremony for staff, faculty and school industry partners.