While the Army pays about $6,400 a day to run a center with 28 tank simulators that can be linked to the new system, the cost of operating 28 Abrams tanks would be $196,000 a day. In 2011 the Army paid about $19 million for 14,000 hours of simulated helicopter and weapons training — a price the Army estimates would have been $281 million if done with live equipment.
Jones says he understands the cost savings and acknowledges some virtual interaction with a helicopter could have helped during his deployment to Afghanistan. Still, he prefers the real thing.
‘‘There are two things I love,’’ he said with a chuckle. ‘‘One is my wife, the other is a tank.’’