Blog VR for the Military Training
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VR for the Military Training
By Veronika Petrenko
8 min read

It’s the battlefield that shows if the training was good enough to prepare a perfect soldier.

That’s why in the US Army, 20% of the military budget is spent on the personnel and the recruit training. And that’s why French, Chinese, German, Swedish armies use virtual reality simulations for military training with enthusiasm. So why do armies develop VR to prepare superhumans?

VR solutions for the military are the ultimate chance to reach numerous goals with a single application!

Increasing The Level Of Safety

Safety is a top priority for the military training. Yet it’s almost impossible to conduct a REALISTIC & SAFE training at the same time. Unless you use virtual reality in the military. Virtual reality military training is the possibility to test soldiers’ performance, reactions, and skills in the challenging and dangerous environment. Without any physical transportation and zero risks for soldiers’ health and life!

US Army is using the possibilities of VR training extensively creating Synthetic Training Environments with the help of images received from satellites or the street view data. More than that, virtual environment acquired by AI can be recreated with maximum accuracy. What does it mean? It means that the soldiers who are getting ready for the deployment in the places they’ve never seen before will feel like a fish in the water there.

More than that, training in VR is not limited by geolocation. Just think about it: a soldier from a training camp from any place of the world can put on VR goggles to get transferred to the battlefield directly. Along with his comrades who can be located on the other continent. The possibilities are endless with VR solutions for safety training. And the majority of armies place a bet on virtual reality apps development either using their own resources or working with contractors.  Anything to increase the level of safety. 

Saving Costs

Military budgets are huge yet there is a way to use them more effectively, and armies grasp these opportunities. Testing military vehicles is stunningly expensive in terms of fuel & possible damage to the equipment. Especially if trainees are newbies who desperately need some practice. And this vicious circle (no practice without a risk) can be resolved with the help of the virtual reality military training only.  

Flight simulations have been used by the majority of armies for decades already. Today flight simulations in virtual reality are meant to train the best pilots keeping them on top of the game. The US army general Mike Hostage acknowledges the fact that modern fighter jets are too powerful to unleash their full power for the inexperienced pilots. So nobody wants to risk the human lives as well as hyper-expensive vehicles that’s why Air Force can boast with virtual reality simulations for the majority of modern fighter jets.

Virtual reality simulation places a pilot in the absolutely detailed and realistic fighter jet cockpit. It’s rendered with the absolute precision and high realism which creates the suspension of disbelief in a trainee (read about it here). The simulated situation provokes a pilot to determine the enemy, select the appropriate missile and use it within a specific timeframe. For trainees, virtual reality simulations are as effective as simulations in physical vehicles. For armies, VR solutions for training are the perfect way to cut down expenses. 

Familiarizing Soldiers With Complex Vehicles

Military-vehicle simulators are priceless for the army. The air force has been using physical flight simulators for decades before it tested virtual reality, and it turned out virtual reality is as good as bulky physical simulators. First of all, using VR solutions for military training saves a lot of time: militants can practice as much as they need with complex vehicles. With physical simulators, they are mostly limited in time because of the huge turnover. 

Second, you shouldn’t forget that VR simulations are extremely realistic and can help soldiers to rehearse their actions in case of the accident and get prepared for any operation. It’s possible to recreate ANY complex vehicle from within with the help of virtual reality application: a tank, a fighter jet, a submarine. VR apps for the military are accessible to millions of soldiers simultaneously and it’s possible to acquire accurate analytics about the trainees with its help. And… VR environment can be modified and upgraded easily as many times as necessary, unlike a real simulator.

Using Virtual Reality Games For Training

A game is the most natural and the most effective tool for learning, we are literally wired to learn playing! Think about it: children learn to speak, to walk, and to interact with the world while playing. So why not use virtual reality games for learning in the military? Modern soldiers are young ( generations Y and Z predominantly), which means they grew up playing video games. For them, learning through video games is natural and engaging. But the German army uses virtual reality games for training because games give better results in terms of information retention.

Chief Scientist for the U.S. Army Simulation, Training and Instrumentation Command (STRICOM) says that recruits today should “expect to play games” throughout their preparation.

More than that, the US Army develops games for military training regularly. For instance, “America’s Army” is the shooter created to give trainees engaging, informative, and entertaining war experience. Apart from delivering what’s expected, “America’s Army” was awarded as one of the best games.

Training Stress Resistance And Resilience

Boot camp training is meant to cause a serious stress to the newbies. And in the best boot camps, trainees should be exposed to the harsh and extreme conditions causing even more stress. 

That’s the only way to test stress resistance skills, develop resilience and perseverance. Virtual reality training helps a soldier to assess what he/she will feel physically and mentally in the extreme situation of the battlefield. After facing extreme situations in a virtual environment, a soldier is much more prepared to real-life challenges. With the help of virtual reality military training, a militant feels better equipped mentally and emotionally.

The Chinese army has created a virtual reality training program for a boot camp which allows users to simulate the real battle environments and missions and launched this VR training recently. The key difference of this VR training is that users can interact with the AI-simulated rivals or with their own comrades to improve their psychological preparation. 

Experts admit that soldiers’ psychological training is the real trick. It takes longer to train analytical skills, stress resistance, decision-making skills than anything else. Luckily, virtual reality is the perfect place for that! Even the simplest VR game can make a trainee sweat due to the high level of realism and challenge.

Aсquiring Data With The Help of AI

Training without measuring results is the money to burn. Gathering accurate data is the only way to learn about the gaps and blind spots of each and every soldier. And to improve these results to get him/her ready to the battlefield.  Yet, it’s very challenging in terms of accuracy and the resources involved: how can one measure the speed of reactions or situational awareness of hundreds or thousands of soldiers during hands-on training? Virtual reality simulations allow gathering priceless data about soldiers’ reactions, behavior patterns, skills, and overall performance with the help of AI. Using modern virtual reality training it’s easy to analyze all the data received from soldiers during the training and offer recommendations and variants to keep trainees alert and to improve their level of performance AI is definitely not a cool buzzword for a virtual reality training in the military. It’s a must.

Improving Social And Communicative Skills

Swedish army is using virtual reality with an interesting mission – to improve collaboration between civilians and soldiers. Being deployed to foreign countries, soldiers find it challenging to interact with the local population. VR simulations for the military can shed the light on the most typical communication problems for soldiers and the most common mistakes. In virtual reality military training militans get the chance to see the discrepancies between their perception of themselves and the impression they make on others.

Taken into account the seriousness of the situation, training of the communication of soldiers in an unfamiliar environment is the vital priority for soldiers.


Hype or Investment?

Armies have embraced virtual reality eagerly because of its obvious benefits: cost- effectiveness, realism, limitless possibilities in terms of time and space.

Yet there is one thing they seem to ignore. Modern soldiers are young so they belong to the most tech-savy generations, generations Y and Z. They grew up with smartphones in their hands. For these people, the interaction with the tech world  is not only natural, it’s necessary.  So using virtual reality solutions for the military training, armies speak to the future perfect soldiers the language they understand: the language of the advanced technologies.