Monday, April 13, 2009

Eastern Oregon military training center receives new firearm training system

Soldiers from 2nd Platoon, Company B, 3rd Brigade, 116th Cavalry Regiment, stationed at Gowen Field, Idaho, practice marksmanship and team building on the new Engagement Skills Trainer at the Biak training facility, near Redmond, Ore., April 4.

REDMOND, Ore. -- Oregon Army National Guard soldiers and civilian law enforcement agencies received a new system to help with firearms training at the Biak training facility, near Redmond, Ore., in March, 2009.

The Engagement Skills Trainer, or EST system, was installed at Biak to help train soldiers preparing for deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan and civilian law enforcement agencies. The system is similar to the firearms training simulator, or FATS system, that previously occupied the building, but it uses real weapons to fire a laser beam at a screen projecting the image of a specified terrain and enemy forces, and uses pneumatic cylinders to give the weapon recoil.

“One nice thing about this system is the recoil is very similar to the actual weapons,” said Spc. Megan Bowman, a range control technician with 821 Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment. “This is a more cost-effective way to teach marksmanship and doesn’t require the ammo or range time.”

The EST system is capable of handling almost every weapon in the military inventory, including M-4 carbines, M-16 rifles, M-249 squad automatic weapons, M-240B machine guns, AT-4 anti-tank rockets, shotguns, .50 caliber machine guns and M-9 handguns.

“The EST is more realistic [than the old FATS system] because it uses more advanced graphics to display the terrain and enemy targets,” Bowman said. “This system does not look like a video game, where the old one did.”

Up to 10 individuals can use the system that cost about $1.1 million. The old system was replaced due to frequent problems, and because the new system is easier for technicians and trainees to use.

The EST System has the option of a simulating desert terrain, multiple urban-growth terrains or multiple wooded terrains to engage five to fifty enemy forces. The system can also program weapon problems, like a round becoming stuck in the weapon or a dud-round.

Other agencies using the EST system include Oregon Army National Guard units and local and state police agencies. Future recruiting events in Eastern Oregon will utilize the EST.

Story and photo by Spc. Kirby Rider,
115th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

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