Like most information technologies, augmented and virtual reality originated in the military-industrial complex. Half a century after the introduction of the technology, Virtual Reality (VR) and Augemnted Reality (AR) are gradually becoming part of the daily training of the military.
The modern global VR and AR market for military applications is estimated at billions of dollars. In 2018, the industry reached a new level when the US Department of Defense and Microsoft signed an unprecedented contract for the supply of 100,000 virtual reality headsets worth $480 million.
Augmented reality headsets have been used in aviation for several decades. The prototype of this technology was the indicators that displayed important information about the flight directly on the windshield. The first aircraft with a windshield indicator in the Soviet Union was the MiG-27K fighter, produced in the 1970s. Then came the helmet-mounted targeting system, which was first equipped with MiG-29 and Su-27 fighters.
Later, all the important functions were combined into the helmet-mounted target designation and indication system, which is becoming widespread in aviation today. Data from devices and video cameras are displayed on glasses – the pilot sees information about the vehicle, about the course of the flight, can see the situation from all sides of the aircraft, and effectively aim guns at the target at any time of the day. American fighter F-35 Lightning II uses such technology, the British have developed their own “Striker II” digital helmet-mounted display system and a similar system is being tested in the United Aircraft Corporation of Rostec state corporation.
In recent years, VR technology has reached a level suitable for use in aircraft pilot training. Anyway, the main problem is the lack of means to simulate the tactile sensations for the pilot. Some of the VR systems try to solve the problem by using mixed reality, e.g. Varjo MR HMD headset, which combines the real cabin with a virtual out-of-cabin environment.
However, the Center for Scientific and Technical Services Dinamika has been introducing VR in the training for several years. Simulators using VR technologies are being developed by the Central Research Institute "Dinamika" together with the subsidiary software-developing company "Constanta-Design". At MAKS-2021, Sukhoi in cooperation with Constanta-Design LLC presented a stand with virtual flight simulators on Su-35 and Su-57 fighters.
Dinamika created the training complex for airborne training, including VR glasses, where the Zarnitsa visualization system is responsible for a detailed environment and special effects allow the parachutist to visually determine the speed and direction of the wind, the visibility of terrain and objects in various conditions.
Ryazan Radio Plant (RRP), part of the "Roselectronics" holding, has created VR glasses that are used for the training of signalmen. Using the device, the soldiers can work out their skills in radio networks The complex includes virtual reality glasses, motion sensors, as well as a computer placed in a special backpack for free movement of the cadet.
In the summer of 2021, RRP entered the Era military innovative technopolis. Being a part of it, Ryazan Radio Plant is now working on the “Avatar” project, based on the hybrid reality technology, which is going to be used for monitoring and evaluation of the actions of military personnel and the condition of military equipment facilities. The complex can also be used in the training of unit coordination, and for single and group military personnel training.
The United Aircraft Corporation is also developing VR simulators that will be used to train air technicians. First of all, the complex is designed to work out the maintenance processes of the fifth-generation Su–57 and generation 4++ - Su-35 aircraft, which are, the most complex and high-tech combat aircraft at the moment. The new simulator will simplify and speed up the training of technicians, preparing them to work with real machines.
The rapid development of VR/AR technologies contributes to the active promotion of them in the technical training tools development for the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. These technologies allow not only to significantly reduce the costs of the educational process but also to improve its quality. The next stage is to combine various simulators and virtual and augmented reality devices into a single system for conducting large-scale training and exercises, combining the different types of troops.