TRAINING AND SIMULATION
T-7A Explores the Metaverse
Red 6 image
NATIONAL HARBOR, Maryland — The T-7A trainer jet will be able to take pilots to new heights as they practice tactics, techniques and procedures similar to what they would face in a real air fight. But what if warfighters could actually see adversaries mid-flight while they train?
That vision could soon become reality as Boeing announced in September that it would invest in the training and simulation startup Red 6.
Using augmented reality, Red 6’s headsets project planes into a pilot’s field of vision that are so realistic that the company films promotional videos by hand, said Dan Robinson, CEO and co-founder of the company.
“It’s not rendered. It is completely raw. In fact, it’s so raw that this is produced by taking an iPhone [and] sticking it inside of a headset,” he said during a rollout event in September at the Air and Space Forces Association’s annual Air, Space and Cyber Conference at National Harbor, Maryland. “It demonstrates just as you saw it, the progress that was made in such a short period of time.”
The company’s Advanced Tactical Augmented Reality System, or ATARS, will be first integrated onto an A-4 Skyhawk test and trace aircraft, said Dan Gillian, vice president and general manager of U.S. government services at Boeing’s global services division.
The AR system would help simulate adversaries for pilots to practice dogfighting tactics. Air Force leadership has said the service should prioritize modernizing its training using the Joint Simulation Environment, which combines live training with high-end virtual simulations.
Red 6 ultimately wants to create a training metaverse, or a digital realm that is synchronous with real life, Robinson said.
“We’ve got the genesis now of a living, breathing digital world — a metaverse that can be continuous in nature,” Robinson said.
Once the technology gets there, the service could attempt more complex exercises such as long-term campaign training, he said.
“That’s the way we want to transform how we’re going to train the future,” he said.
After the A-4 integration, Boeing will consider other platforms such as the Red Hawk, Gillian noted.
“As always, we’re spending our [internal research-and-development] dollars and our investment dollars to bring new technologies online to merge into our product lines down the road. And certainly we see a path like that happening,” he said.
He noted that any integration into the Red Hawk would happen with support from and coordination with the Air Force and would not jeopardize the program’s goals.
“It’s not affecting the near-term delivery schedule or commitment to T-7,” he said.
The T-7A is continuously exploring the latest tech in order to ensure the best technology is available for training pilots for the future fight, said Paul Niewald, vice president for the T-7 program at Boeing.
“We are confident that augmented reality with its breathtaking realism will be key to improving pilot training and decision-making in high-speed cockpit environments,” he said in an email. “The potential integration is an example of Boeing’s commitment to investing in technology and our drive to lead innovation in the aerospace and defense sectors.”