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TSgt. Cody Canfield, tactical air control party specialist with the 169th Air Support Operations Squadron, Illinois Air National Guard, points out a close air support aircraft to MSgt. Eric Dubois while training in the Air National Guard Advanced Joint Terminal Attack Controller Training System, Oct. 5, 2015. Air National Guard photo by SSgt. Lealan Buehrer.

​Airmen with the Illinois Air National Guard’s 169th Air Support Operations Squadron recently unveiled a combat simulator they helped create. The Air National Guard Advanced Joint Terminal Attack Controller Training System, designed for tactical air control party specialists, simulates coordinating airstrikes while deployed overseas with ground forces, according to a release. It includes a 270-degree dome projection screen, control station, and aircraft simulator station, and can be networked with other simulators. “While nothing can replace the experience of controlling a live aircraft, the simulator is a cost-effective alternative,” said Maj. Jason Clifford, commander of the 169th ASOS. An Air Force analysis found the simulator could reduce the cost of qualification training by 48 percent, possibly saving the government $95 million through Fiscal 2018. Matt Hruska, a simulator operator and maintainer for the squadron, said airmen who use the trainer will be ready to provide close air support to ground troops when necessary. “I’ve been that grunt that never had air support, so I’ve been in situations where you’re getting shot at and you’re like, ‘This is it, I’m dying’,” Hruska said. “With this, we give hope.”