Wednesday, February 1, 2023

US Army Soldiers To Get Mixed Reality Goggles With Night Vision In 2023; China Also Trains With VR For Close Combat

The US Army is prepared to enter future battlefields with its brand-new “combat goggles” as modern warfighting becomes more technologically driven and foreign military powers integrate cutting-edge systems to boost combat preparedness.

After a few technical glitches and delays, specific soldiers in operational and training units will finally receive the US Army’s new “mixed reality” goggles in 2023.

The mixed reality goggles are being developed under the Integrated Visual Augmentation System or IVAS. This roughly $22 billion initiative will provide troops with the situational awareness akin to a fighter pilot.

Earlier this year, EurAsian Times had reported that the Assistant Secretary for Acquisition, Douglas Bush, had “cleared the Army to begin accepting” some of the 5,000 sets of goggles, spokesman Jamal Beck said in a statement. Until now, their distribution had been put off due to concerns about the device’s performance due to a lack of more thorough testing.

Microsoft Corp’s high-tech combat goggles are being delivered to the US Army following promising field testing results. The device has been designed keeping in mind specific requirements of close combat that include improving troop vision in warfare by expanding the field of view, enhancing depth perception, and getting beyond the limitations of human vision.

Integrated Visual Augmentation System- Wikipedia

Mixed reality (MR) is an emergent technology that blends virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). These head-mounted displays include cameras that constantly map the environment of the person wearing them. Besides their combat use, these devices are increasingly popular among gaming communities.

The device combines night vision, augmented reality tools for training and missions, wireless linkage to the weapons site, and target acquisition in each goggle. The Army will provide troops in unnamed operating and training units in the upcoming year with 5,000 IVAS 1.0 and another 5,000 IVAS 1.1 versions.

The Army has spent the last three years fiddling with cutting-edge technology, working off the basic unit of the Microsoft HoloLens virtual reality goggle to develop a piece of field-ready equipment to handle the entire high-tech job officials predict future battle would entail, even for the dismounted soldier.

Virtual and mixed reality is finding application with advanced militaries worldwide preparing for closed combat and urban warfare. For instance, a recent social media video suggests that Chinese soldiers are using virtual reality to train for combat in populated places, as noted by EurAsian Times.

Previous reports have likewise suggested that China uses virtual reality and simulation training for urban combat. A PLAN logistical support unit under the Northern Theatre Command used virtual reality to conduct a “wartime fuel support drill” in March 2021.

“The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has started to use virtual reality (VR) technologies in training as it allows officers and soldiers to gain enhanced combat capability more efficiently,” a report in the state-owned Global Times said.

It becomes all the more imperative for US infantry troops to adopt the mixed reality combat goggles as tensions continue to rise in the Indo-Pacific region, with the possibility of a US-China clash low but never null.

With China’s aggressive maneuvers against Taiwan that the US vehemently opposes, the preparation for one-on-one combat has assumed all the more significance.

What Do We Know About US Army’s Combat Goggles?

The US Army developed the IVAS goggles for use by close-combat forces. According to a press statement previously released by the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service (DVIDS), the new goggles will increase the situational awareness of the infantry personnel.

From the outside, versions 1.0 and 1.1 appear to be comparable. Both have night vision at least as good as most fielded systems. The Enhanced Night Vision Device-Binocular, which has only been fielded to a few close combat forces, is the only other goggle with thermal sights in the same device. Additionally, both versions support “passive targeting.”

With eyewear, the soldiers can scan around corners, see in the dark, and view tactical information like digital maps. The core of the IVAS goggles function is how the new eyewear use feeds from omnidirectional cameras installed outside the armored vehicles.

Rangers from 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment participate in new equipment training on the IVAS Capability Set 4 during tropical weather testing in Camp Santiago, Puerto Rico, in March 2021. (Army)
Rangers from the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, participate in new equipment training on the IVAS Capability Set 4 during tropical weather testing in Camp Santiago, Puerto Rico, in March 2021. (Army)

According to sources, an infrared night vision scope mounted on a rifle may allow the IVAS to communicate with soldiers’ weapons. The soldiers can point their weapons while hiding behind the cover or use the scope to assess the area for attackers without being physically hurt by nearby enemies.

According to Dr. Bruce Jette, a former Army acquisition executive who spoke with The National Interest, the technology can purportedly provide soldiers with a three-dimensional perspective they might not otherwise have.

Jette emphasized that IVAS uses the Human-Machine Interface (HMI) to connect a portion of the brain mechanisms underlying human vision to software that supports depth perception, peripheral vision, and other subtleties associated with the human eye.

Their initial fielding was scheduled for late 2021, and a deadline of September 2022 was set after that. According to officials, developing novel approaches to improving night vision quality while simultaneously including the cutting-edge mixed reality aspects essential to google’s success warranted some delays.

With the delivery scheduled for 2023, the US Army soldiers will be better equipped to map the positions of many targets concurrently, gather information on the whereabouts of enemy forces, and notify the shooter of crucial attack specifics like the range and location of the opposing forces.

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