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Posted August 19 , 2021

 

WASHINGTON — For the first time ever, a U.S. Air Force T-38 aircraft will be equipped with an augmented reality training system that allows it to fight against simulated Russian and Chinese fighters displayed inside a pilot’s helmet.

The Air Force has awarded Florida-based technology company Red 6 a contract worth up to $70 million during its five-year performance period, the company announced Monday morning.

During that time, Red 6 will integrate an airborne tactical augmented reality system with the Northrop T-38 Talon used to train combat pilots, followed by integrating ATARS on board fourth-generation aircraft such as the F-16.

Red 6 CEO Daniel Robinson said in an exclusive interview with Defense News that the ATARS-equipped T-38 could be ready to begin flight tests anywhere from six to 12 months from now.

“It’s a big, bold vision,” Robinson said, “but I think a big, bold vision is quickly becoming a reality.” “I think over the next 12 months, you’re going to witness something that no one can deny that is totally transformative.”

{mprestriction ids="1,4,9"}The ATARS system includes a dedicated full-color augmented reality headset designed to be worn with the standard HGU-55 helmet used by F-15 and F-16 pilots.

While everything a user sees is simulated in a virtual reality environment, augmented reality blends virtualization – in this case, photo-realistic images of enemy planes – with the landscapes that the pilot is actually looking at outside the cockpit.

Robinson said the company held its first meeting with Air Force stakeholders on Monday afternoon to begin understanding the technical requirements for integrating the augmented reality system with the T-38.


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