MAN training for ADF gathers pace
The Australian Defence Force's (ADF) introduction into service (IIS) training conversion programme for drivers is in full swing as the military continues to roll out its new fleet of Rheinmetall MAN trucks and modules (including flatracks) and Haulmark trailers.
Maj Charles De-Zilva, officer commanding of the Land 121 Training Team, emphasised that the driver conversion training bridges the gap between the legacy fleet and the new Land 121 Phase 3B capability.
'We're training the gap, not the experience,' he explained to Shephard at the Greenbank Training Area near Brisbane. 'The course thus concentrates on exposing professional drivers, who currently hold the appropriate licence code, to what is different from the legacy fleet without having to reteach the basics.'
The ADF is acquiring 2,707 medium and heavy trucks (in 4x4, 6x6, 8x8 and 10x10 configurations), plus 1,704 trailers under this project. Contract signature took place in July 2013, with Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles Australia supplying 2,536 trucks and 3,054 specialist modules, and Haulmark Trailers providing semitrailers, dollies and trailers of up to eight axles.
The first driver conversion course kicked off last September and they have been running continuously since then.
The Land 121 Training Team is a critical element in the delivery of this project and the development of capability for the ADF. The team has been tasked with the development and delivery of training to support the operation and maintenance of the new fleet of vehicles through the delivery of a suite of IIS courses at RAAF Base Amberley for driver training, and the Albury Wodonga Military Area (AWMA) for maintenance training.
For the 'train the gap, not experience' approach to work, individual members and units have to ensure that the experience is sustained both before and after attending the conversion courses. It is essential for trainees to refresh their driving skills prior to attending and for units to allow members to enhance and maintain their skills after the course.
This includes such elements as driving on major thoroughfares, wheel changes and vehicle components. Students also learn to operate the winches, trailers and load-handling systems. Of note, this is the first time the ADF has operated flatracks, so load handling is an important skill to be mastered.
Additionally, mechanical and vehicle electrician maintenance courses on the new fleet of vehicles are being undertaken at the AWMA. These courses have also adopted a 'train the gap, not experience' training approach.
Medical Rescue Training (MRT), an Australian company with previous experience offering driving courses, is contracted to assist the ADF in delivering instruction, and it integrates with military instructors for each course. The training materials were developed collaboratively by Rheinmetall MAN, Haulmark and MRT.
Shephard witnessed a Rheinmetall MAN 40M 4x4 truck with protected cab, and an HX77 8x8 truck, being put through their paces at a dedicated driver training facility at the Greenbank Training Area.
Instructors said the new trucks were far easier and safer to drive than their Mercedes-Benz Unimog, Mack R-series and Mack S-Liner predecessors thanks to features such as an automatic transmission, anti-lock braking system and electronic management systems.
Because the Rheinmetall MAN trucks are still in the early process of being rolled out, it will take some time before driver training transitions from conversion to sustainment. As well as the Amberley location, sustainment courses will later be delivered at the School of Transport in Puckapunyal.
It is understood that this future training may include the use of driver simulators.
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