UPT 2.5 - A new start for tomorrow’s pilots

  • Published
  • 47th Flying Training Wing PA

The key to maintaining air superiority is high-quality pilots. With the ever-evolving technology in our modern world, pilots' training evolves to match. 


The Air Force, and Laughlin AFB, recently overhauled its pilot training curriculum, bringing new pilots into the future with Undergraduate Pilot Training 2.5. Starting with Class 23-01 AU, student pilots at Laughlin will now be going through the improved course.


“UPT 2.5 is a more innovative way to train pilots,” said 1st Lt. Connor Marien, 85th Flying Training Squadron UPT 2.5 instructor pilot. “We are integrating new technology in order to create a better product in the end and create a more streamlined, better way to train a pilot.”


This streamlining helps teachers enhance communication with their students, incorporating new ideas into the syllabus and improve education quality.


“The instructional philosophy of UPT 2.5 shifts to learner-centric training instead of the traditional teacher-centric model,” said 1st Lt. Owen Charles, 47th Operations Group pilot training transformation office. “It’s about developing a coach-athlete mentality between instructor and student, challenging students to push their limits, and rapidly developing their airmanship.”


In addition to a greater focus on individual student interaction and growth, UPT 2.5 makes increased use of modern technologies, including simulators, virtual reality headsets, 360-degree videos, and a virtual instructor pilot to help coach students with maneuvers. These assets can help pilots focus on parts that they may struggle with without having to redo entire courses. 


“Consider you’re a golfer and are struggling with your 10-foot putts; it’s both inefficient and costly to play another 18 holes of golf just to fix your putts,” said Owen, “Instead, you should go to the putting green. Now, imagine that you’re a pilot struggling with radio communication or a certain type of stall recovery. UPT 2.5 offers you tools to address your 10-foot putt before you go play another round of golf.”


Student pilots starting with Class 23-01 AU also have the ability to study ahead in their courses, as they will receive their books when they arrive at Laughlin rather than wait until they start classes. When training starts, students are also able to use individual VR headsets to practice various maneuvers. These new tools will not only help the students, but they will also help the instructors with molding students into being the best pilots possible.


“As instructor pilots, we will be more involved with the technology side of training,” said Marien. “It will be better to be a bit more hands-on and set the students up for new things that will help us improve the quality of training.”


T-6 Texan II instructor pilots starting in class 23-01 AU will also incorporate a whole new phase of training to help tie what students have learned together into a long-duration mission and help them adapt to airborne contingencies.


“The ultimate goal is to develop a competent, critical thinking pilot who is ready for the cognitive demands of a fifth-generation battlespace,” said Owen. “UPT 2.0 is an efficient system for developing pilots with good hands and a baseline of safe airmanship- but there isn’t much room for critical thinking. Tomorrow’s pilots need to have the stick and rudder skills of their predecessors but they need the mental agility to manage a multitude of sensors and the critical thinking skills to operate in a contested, communications denied environment.”


With these improvements to the equipment, syllabus, and teaching style, Laughlin Air Force Base looks forward to continuing to produce combat-ready Airmen, pilots, and leaders.