• United States



The Sting of Virtual Warfare

Apr 15, 20052 mins
CSO and CISOData and Information Security

Simulations Battlefield simulators have become so advanced in the past few years that soldiers can not only see and hear conflict, they can feel it.

VirTra Systems, a simulation training company, filed three patents in December on its new IVR-4G combat-readiness simulator. The 4G stands for fourth-generation warfare. This series of products is intended to meet the needs of combatants training for today’s urban battlefields, where the enemy uses guerrilla tactics and hides within civilian populations. The IVR simulators can recreate up to a 360-degree battlefield environment where soldiers working alone or in groups of up to six can practice various scenarios. Among the patent-pending features is the simulator’s use of a hybrid-CGI software that allows instructors to create their own training scenario using video or computer-generated images with 3-D sound and a tetherless recoil kit that turns a soldier’s own M-16 into a wireless laser-based training weapon with a realistic recoil.

The most intriguing aspect of this simulator is an innovation that VirTra calls a “threat-fire belt.” During training, a participant can strap this belt around his waist, which will deliver an electric stun pulse if he is wounded during the scenarioanything from a small charge to one strong enough to knock the participant down. As you might imagine, this raises the stakes for trainees considerably. Kelly Jones, CEO of VirTra Systems, sees the threat-fire belt as a means of creating an ultra-realistic training experience. “Otherwise it’s just a computerized program where participants try to learn but there’s no downside to failure,” says Jones. When using the belt, Jones notes that trainees report elevated blood pressure and sweaty palms, just as they might in a real situation. So far VirTra has sold and installed these simulators at some Air Force locations, has shipped one to the Army and one to a classified international location. That might not sound like booming sales, but with a price tag of anywhere between $80,000 to $120,000 per simulator, realism doesn’t come cheap.