Ukraine-Russia War Lessons Learned

Given the increasing international dimension of I/ITSEC it is no surprise the military-industry team was taking aboard the lessons learned from the Ukraine-Russia War in terms of operations and products. 

In one instance, during a panel discussion, Lt Gen (Army) John Kolasheski, Commanding General, US Army V Corp, called for more rigorous European theatre-based exercise. “What is needed is more realistic training, an increasing multi-national focus, more multi-echelon scenarios, and paying attention to delivering more combat credible forces in the live, virtual, constructive environment.”

On cue, during a Saab media briefing, Åsa Thegström, Senior Vice President and Head of Business Unit Training & Simulation, noted the uptick in training support services the company is providing in the European theater. A partial list of recent and near-term Saab-supported events include: COLD RESPONSE (Norway, May) with Norway, Finland, Netherlands, Sweden, the US Marine Corps, Germany and France; ARROW 22 (Finland, April) with UK, Latvia, US and Estonia; and AURORA 23, (April – May, Sweden) with 14 nations participating and more than 26,000 soldiers.

The Ukraine-Russian War has seen a proliferation of UASs by both combatants. In an effort to allow its customers to remain ahead of this threat, Saab unveiled a prototype virtual UAV this week. The new product is envisioned to deliver ISR and other capabilities into the instrumented Saab GAMER tactical engagement simulation system. Saab is collaborating with Maxar on this new product.   

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Mass Virtual has delivered Virtual Hangar - and its XR training solutions - to the US Air Force. Image credit: Mass Virtual.

HMDs Here, There and Everywhere

What a difference a few years make. Gone from the I/ITSEC conference floor is the random, near-persistent report of virtual weaponry resonating throughout the halls. Reflecting on the pace of incremental innovation migrating across exhibitor booths, 2022 will go into the I/ITSEC history book, in one instance, as the year HMDs became almost ubiquitous enablers of military training and education solutions.

John Brooks, CEO, Mass Virtual, provided several high-level oversights of the explosive growth of HMDs as enablers of training and education. Brooks spoke with MS&T from the perspective of using its MassXR enterprise platform to deliver training solutions to diverse military customers and operators in adjacent high-risk sectors. 

In instance, Mass Virtual’s defense customers are using commercially available head-mounted displays. While this is an emerging, high-visibility requirement, “They are also asking for something that is rugged and that lasts for five years, versus a three-year window. But the solutions are also varying and increasing – for instance, weapons command operations to help visualize the battlefield.” 

The HTC Vive Pro 2 and HTC Vive Focus 3 were two HMDs in use for demonstrations at the corporate booth.  

While the company’s flagship product, Virtual Hangar, is XR-enabled, Mass Virtual is expanding its technology focus to include additional AR-based products. “We’re working closely with one supplier of AR headsets exhibiting here at I/ITSEC since we’re now doing everything. While we mastered VR, we’re now focused on XR – delivering augmented and mixed reality.”

Brooks further added that virtual reality is sustainable, it meets performance criteria and is affordable and is being integrated into Mass Virtual’s XR enterprise that is being delivered to the customer. “VR is making impacts today. Everyone knows augmented will be the main stay, and it is almost here.” 

Beyond individual HMDs, Brooks emphasized the community is seeing a convergence. “Telecommunication providers of 5G networks, HMD hardware suppliers and others are all buying in,” in effect eliminating many AR technology implementation impediments. 

Another major HMD sector trend is the velocity of new content entering the market space. Brooks explained, “This is going on every year. Each company, each competitor, is launching its products every year – which is almost unheard of to have this cycle. But they know this moment of horizon is upon us and they want to be there with the right product at the right time.”