Now, Orders-Woempner said the system will pay for itself in around 10 years and start cutting back the base’s energy bill immediately.
Other energy-saving upgrades include the installation of low-flow plumbing, better HVAC controls, energy efficient lighting, and infrared heating systems. Grissom spent more than $900,000 last year on those projects.
The base also dramatically reduced its fuel consumption last year after it purchased a $3 million virtual training system.
The new boom operator weapons system trainer, or BOWST, opened in September and allows KC-135 Stratotanker boom operators to undergo vital training necessary for in-flight refueling missions in a virtual environment.
A boom operator is part of a KC-135’s three-person aircrew and uses a large boom to establish a connection between the tanker and the receiver aircraft to transfer fuel.
With boom operators stepping out of the airplane and into the simulator, the base is saving around $3 million a year on fuel costs by reducing the number of flight hours in a KC-135 Stratotanker while still offering the required training to get a boom operator certified.
“It’s a money saver, because it costs about $300 per hour to run the BOWST, and it costs almost $7,000 an hour to fly the airplane,” said Gary Beebe, a site manager with a contract company that operates and maintains Grissom’s BOWST and KC-135 cockpit simulator. “It’s almost a 20-to-1 ratio, and it has cut down on the number of flying sorties that it takes to get a boom operator initially qualified.”
Just like the geothermal system, Grissom is the first Air Force Reserve Command base to have a BOWST.
On top of the cost-saving benefits, Grissom’s virtual system also allows for enhanced training with emergency procedures and makes it easier for boom operators to train on all types of receivers.