At the end of last month, Red 6, an augmented reality (AR) technology company for synthetic air combat training, announced a strategic agreement with the UK’s Royal Air Force (RAF) and the National Security Strategic Investment Fund (NSSIF), the UK Government’s corporate venturing arm for dual-use advanced technologies.

Both parties seek to work collaboratively with Red 6 to supply AR technologies in support of the UK military flying training ecosystem, known as UKMFTS. NSSIF also participated as an investor in Red 6’s recent $70m (£54m) Series B capital raising round.

Synthetic training with AR

NSSIF makes investments that help accelerate the adoption of the UK Government’s future national security and defence capabilities, while developing the country’s dual-use technology ecosystem. Through this investment, NSSIF will also support Red 6 with its integration into BAE Systems’ Hawk aircraft.

Red 6 has developed the Advanced Tactical Augmented Reality System (ATARS). ATARS is a multi-node, all-domain AR system that delivers a complete outdoor synthetic training environment for multiple users. It allows pilots to experience the cognitive loads of physically flying airplanes for real but captures the value of synthetics by enabling them to enter realistic, scalable, simulated training environments, outdoors.

Digital transition

Many militaries are dipping their toes into digital solutions to defence problems: from sustainability for the optimal use of fuel to the problem of costly live testing.

A GlobalData report on Digital Twins (2020) suggests that simulation solution is an evolving practice that is still at a formative stage. “To truly fulfill their potential, digital twins must quickly evolve into a meaningful construct and not just another technology concept in the broader Internet of Things (IoT),” the report asserts. 

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Digitally savvy start-ups can start to strip away all the extra expense, time and effort to arrange live firings, pose various different scenarios and prevent showcasing secret capabilities that are better left hidden to most eyes.

The pan-European weapon systems supplier, MBDA, has exploited digital solutions. Its new Digital Battlespace Facility (DBF) marks a significant step toward digital twin technology. This emerging area will allow end-users to design, troubleshoot and enhance concepts in a virtual, risk-free environment. 

The company emphasised that it has “been de-risking [its products] for years” with the DBF. Now fully operational, the company can derive its 20 years experience to market its wide range and diversely complementary products.