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November 25, 2020

Uses of VR in Military Training

In November 2020, the UK Government unveiled its £16.5bn military spending boost; the most significant investment for a generation. As a key objective is ensuring that the armed forces develop a “digital backbone”, innovative VR training solutions can provide the key to addressing skills issues in response to the challenges of growth and rapid change. 

Virtual Reality in the Military Today

Since the 1980s, computer generated simulated training has been widely adopted across the sector, giving military personnel the chance to train in a safe and controlled environment. Virtual reality takes computer-based training to the next level. By providing fully immersive and multi-user experiences that truly reflect a variety of real life scenarios, VR platforms such as Future Visual’s VISIONxR(™) gives trainees the chance to not only train in a safe way, but one that is incredibly realistic and intuitive. This gives them the chance to perfect their skills and actions in response to ever changing scenarios and technological advances. 

How Virtual Reality is Transforming Military Training

Situational awareness

Virtual reality training is a great way to give military personnel the chance to learn crucial skills to survive in high pressure, dangerous and diverse environments – and all within a safe, risk-free space. It can help individuals to hone their combat and decision-making skills in reaction to varying scenarios, as well as tactical and strategic thinking. 

Activity-based training

As VR training can also combine haptic technology, it provides a great tool for activity related training, such as weapon handling, as well as practicing potentially life threatening activities such as parachute jumps. It can also help personnel to acclimatise to working with, and in, claustrophobic military equipment environments, such as submarines and tanks.

Unit training

Being able to rely on colleagues is crucial for all military units to function. The great thing about VR training is that it gives units the chance to train together, meaning that it can help to train on how to effectively work interdependently and understand the impact their actions can have on their colleagues.

An effective response to technological changes 

The defence sector is faced with significant changes as we move from the industrial to digital age. As advances in technology and communications are leading to a shift from hardware-driven defence strategies to data-driven defence solutions, VR training tools give personnel the chance to rise to the challenges that technological changes present to everyday working conditions.

The potential to scale up training

In a sector that requires large numbers of personnel to be trained to a high level, rolling out practical training at scale is crucial. Moreover, it’s a cost effective way to ensure consistency of training across thousands of military personnel, with the added bonus of being able to monitor and evaluate individual performance.

Military Applications for VR Training

On the ground: battlefield and combat training

Armies around the world are using VR for battlefield and combat training. Virtual reality can provide a realistic digital replication of the complex environments, providing soldiers a safe way to learn how to engage with the enemy, whilst also coping with external factors such as the presence of civilians, as well as varied conditions, including different times of day and weather challenges. By undertaking VR training, soldiers can learn how to handle high stress situations and  improve a range of skills, from effective communications through to critical combat techniques. It can also help them to learn how to deal with hostile environments, such as suicide bombers or sniper attacks. 

Throughout 2020, the British Army’s Yorkshire Regiment has been trialling a VR training programme, giving soldiers the chance to practice battlefield activities to help prepare them for operational deployments. 

Equipment training

From haptic VR guns through to armoured vehicles, submarines which launch virtual torpedoes and beyond, VR is being applied to military training programmes that focus on a trainee’s ability to use specific equipment in their work.

The Pilot Training Next Programme highlights how virtual reality can help to train personnel at scale by bridging the gap between classroom learning and expensive (and limited) traditional simulations. It has streamlined how the US Air Force trains news pilots by using HTC VIVEs, alongside additional equipment to replicate a virtual cockpit. Combined with advanced biometrics and artificial intelligence, the programme gives trainees the chance to practice techniques which can be monitored and evaluated effectively. 

Virtual Naval Ships

Naval institutions around the world have introduced VR training to ensure that ship personnel are familiar with complex equipment they are faced with, from maintenance engineers through to helicopter pilots and bridge officers – and beyond.

VR is also being used as an orientation training tool by the Royal Navy. Staff destined for the Queen Elizabeth Class (QEC) aircraft carriers can familiarise themselves with the ship’s layout, including the location of key pieces of safety equipment, as well as escape and evacuation routes prior to setting foot on the ships. The training programme also tests the user’s response to emergency scenarios, including coping with casualties, fires and hire pressure leaks.  

Medical Training

It is critical that medical military personnels’ skillsets are constantly updated to rise to the challenge of ever changing combat environments and the implications this has on casualty trauma care. As virtual reality is great for introducing effective and practical training that can be rapidly introduced at scale, it is the ideal tool for medical military training. 

In addition to VR training advances made across the healthcare sector over the past few years, VR military medical training can give trainees the chance to hone their medical skills in a risk-free environment. By replicating hostile working environments, such as frantic and stressful battlefield scenarios, VR training can help military medical professionals to practice making split-second decisions when treating patients facing life threatening injuries, such as loss of limbs, and burns.  

The Future of Military Training

In the face of changing threats and socio-political orders, coupled with rapid technological advances, the military sector is facing significant changes and challenges. Ensuring that military personnel – from the top down are armed with the skills and abilities to address these challenges is crucial; and effective training is central. 

While immersive technologies like virtual reality won’t completely replace traditional military training techniques such as training exercises and high end simulations, they have the potential to make a significant contribution to the way that the military sector, helping military personnel gain and maintain the skills they need to perform at the highest level. 

Want to find out more about virtual reality training?

Find out about Future Visual VR Training platform VISIONxR™ and request a demo here.