How Immersive Technologies can revolutionize Defence Training
The Army, Air Force and Navy form an integral part of Defence services. The Department of Defence prepares individuals in civilian society to transform into disciplined defence professional.The process involves enhancing the capabilities of personnel to make them ready for emergency and war operations. The ongoing process of traditional methods of training includes Basic Training or Boot Camp, Advanced Training, Skills Training, Specialized Skills Training, Leadership Development Training.
Virtual Training and Simulation gives a new dimension to the traditional defence training pipeline with a scalable and efficient method of modern warfare and situational awareness training for soldiers through learning by doing and immersion.
Let us check a few drawbacks in the traditional way of training!
Traditional way of training involves :
- More Cost and Time: Traditional method of training is expensive because defence equipment and associated logistics is consistently higher in cost,consumes more time to deploy and need more resources on training. According to Economic Times of India, 6 crore INR is the cost of training for an officer under the Short Service Commission, who serve up to 14 years.
- Complexity in Task Accomplishment : Modern war scenarios are more complex in comparison to tasks performed during training. Complexity lies in what sources of information or appropriate manuals to be implied during any real ground task accomplishment and this reduces the overall quality or productivity of training.
- Logistical Nightmare : Traditional training may lead to logistical nightmares where at times it is difficult to plan, organize and relocate heavy-duty equipment like tanks, cranes, graders, excavators, dump trucks, backhoes, flight simulators, ship simulators for training.
- Risk factor and Damages: Risk factor is extensively high because traditional training leads to damages of expensive equipment or while handling ammunition.
- Resource Intensive Quality of Training (QoT): Traditional method of training leverages a theoretical approach which is time consuming and need more resources to achieve the standard quality. This approach leads to poor involvement and weak retention rate. Assessment of potentialities of any personnel in comparison to real time task performance becomes insufficient. Such ineffectiveness in training might hamper a personnel’s career in the service.
- Lack of preparedness for Modern Warfare: Real time ground expeditions are more unpredictable and complicated in its nature. Traditional method though imbibes knowledge on various training and vehicle handling skills but fails to bridge the gap between training and implementing the skills on actual ground operations especially with the evolving modern warfare and advanced weapons.
- Poor On-field Medical Awareness : Often medical personnel undertakes risky actions during war. There are a few situations where on-field medical professionals cannot be deployed, in those scenarios first aid to the injured soldiers has to be provided by the on-field soldiers. Hence, training soldiers on first aid medicine is an important part of the curriculum. Reacquiring medical skills in a battlefield within a short period of time makes the personnel reluctant and bewildered. Military personnel exposed to war-zone trauma are at risk for developing PTSD. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), sometimes known as combat stress, occurs after soldiers experience severe trauma or a life-threatening event often after war mission. The present process to recover from such stress is time consuming.
Why Virtual Reality is the ultimate solution for overcoming such drawbacks?
In order to have a one-time solution to the limitations of traditional training, Virtual Reality(VR) can be considered as an interactive and immersive tool to create war-like synthetic environments. Virtual Reality based combat simulations are basically gamified digital environments similar to mobile based multiplayer games like Mini Militia and PubG which are highly engaging and involve a high amount of tactics. This kind of multiplayer game environment can be designed and implemented in Virtual Reality to provide practical, tactical and more engaging training solutions.
What Virtual Reality(VR) is all about!
Virtual Reality(VR) is a 3D immersive computer simulated experience that replicates a similar yet completely different environment from the real world.It is an enhanced technology where one can fully immerse oneself into a virtual world. VR enabled technologies create environments using realistic images, sounds & sensations that simulate a user’s physical presence into a virtual world. Users experience an artificial environment around them, move around it, visualize, hear, touch, smell and even can interact with virtual features of that world. Various VR devices include VR headsets that consist of a head-mounted display where the user’s interface is connected through a small screen in front of their eyes to enjoy the features of the virtual world. VR also incorporates a 3D touch technology known as Haptic technology that generates sensation ‘touch’ by applying forces, vibrations and motions to the user.
6 different facets why Virtual Training and Simulation is a game changer
1.Developing Situational Combat Awareness Simulation
- Virtual Reality recreates an immersive environment for maneuvering real time boot camps experience like exploration of tanks, caves, motion capture, match moving, video tracking, training in handling of equipment, parachute jumping and so on into a fully virtual world.
- Virtual Reality helps soldiers in various environmental, navigational, survival and tactical expeditions like jungle warfare, jungle boat incursion, cold desert and hot desert missions in order to strike a balance between training and realism.
2. Enhancing skills on high — end vehicle through simulation
- Virtual Reality simulations are extensively realistic and allow the soldiers to practice before they finally implement them on an actual machine. Various vehicle simulation skills on high-end vehicles like tanks and armored vehicles are exposed to experience the compact and phobic conditions as well as create awareness of real battlefield and hostile environments. Such simulation helps to retrieve enemy locations and trace risks.
- Flight simulators are huge, weigh tons and expensive. For example, a Level D Type 7 full flight simulator sells for $12 million, excluding the cost of operating the simulator. It gets even more expensive with the launch of a newer model of airplane, which means the old one must be dumped. The result is that the cost of pilot training and logistics is extremely high and beyond the reach of many aspiring pilots. For instance, the Hunter Simulator F.6/FGA.9, Ajeet and Kiran Flight Simulators and currently the Hawk Simulators serve as a replica of real cockpit experience. For air combat training, students and trainers are exposed to specific combat aircraft simulators like MiG-21, Mirage, Jaguar, Su-30 Simulators and Mi-17 helicopter simulators.
- The Navy has also started implementing Virtual Reality simulators in its ship maneuvering training to avoid logistic costs of real ship simulators and speed up the learning process and sailors production. Maritime Simulators offers real time sound simulation, views in all directions and immersive navigational experiences through Virtual Reality.
3. Acts as a first-aid to stimulate life saving operations in war environment
- Virtual Reality helps military medical personnel to undertake operations in risky and stressful environments. VR acts as a life saving aid in a virtual war like scenario that allows military medical personnel to try hands on skills such as front-line triage, evacuation, treating wounds etc. in a confined war-like-zone environment.
- Virtual Reality trains medical and non- medical staff in up-skilling into close-to-combat scenarios.
- Traumatic events during war and rescue operations can result in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Several studies suggest that VR can aid in the rehabilitation process of defence personnel suffering from such traumatic conditions.
4. Quality of Training(QoT)
- Through its immersiveness and tactics, Virtual Reality(VR) allows the trainee to actively participate in the process of acquiring realistic skills. This improves the quality of learning resulting in better engagement or involvement of the soldiers.
- Better engagement leads to higher retention rate. Virtual Reality provides perceptual fidelity which is much higher than classroom training. On-demand repetition, ability to assess, virtual visual experience increase the retention rate by 75% than 5% by lecture style learning and 10% by reading according to a study by the National Training Laboratory. Therefore, an engaged learner is always a better learner.
- When training becomes gamification, it grips a faster pace in the process. Assessing a personnel or evaluating a trainee’s performance becomes quite easier.
5. Great source for cost effectiveness
- Great advancement always finds a profound place in the defence services. With the quality of immersiveness, Virtual Reality(VR) facilitates to cut down the cost of training mainly due to the unlikely factor of “wear and tear” of Head Mounted Displays(HMD) and related equipment that brings in great sources for cost effectiveness.
- Use of original arms and ammunition on firing range is expensive. One of the common guns which is in use is ‘INSAS rifle’ which uses a cartridge of 5.56 x 45 mm that costs around Rs. 30/bullet. Another example of heavy-duty equipment is ‘Arjun MBT’, major Armour tank that weighs an approximate of 58.5 tonnes at an estimated unit costs of Rs. 55.9 crores. With Virtual Reality based gamified training, cost of inventories and logistical nightmares of heavy equipment for training can be minimized.
- Training pilots on actual flights is costly and time consuming, so virtual reality simulators is an efficient and affordable solution to the looming pilot shortage.
6. Damage and Safety Control :
Virtual Reality(VR) allows trainees to repeatedly practice dangerous scenarios while preventing damage to expensive equipment and avoid fatal training accidents and loss of life especially for those related to handling of explosives.
VR is always favored in training and simulation applications as it facilitates to perform complex tasks with required safety. As a rough estimate, the U.S. spends approximately 14 billion dollars on ‘synthetic warfare training’ every year. Indian Defence training has to have such developed technology in its training agenda in order to get benefited by its preferred flexible simulations. Setting all its dimensions, the concept of warfare has been revolutionized as “VR warfare”. Well balanced training with VR, augments the concept of ‘unit cohesion’ as better engagement will surely create better bonding and understanding amongst the soldiers, which is utmost crucial for any war mission accomplishment.
It is worth mentioning the Defence capabilities of India during various war. India’s strength has been witnessed in many successful war accomplishments such as Kargil War, 2019 Surgical Air Strike, INS Vikrant during Indo-Pak War of 1971 and so on. Huge and sophisticated machines have been undertaken for such war missions. As per World Economic forum, Indian Defense budget as on 2020–21 stands at Rs. 4,71,378 crores (US$ 65.86 Billion). Recently, the Indian Air Force (IAF) has inducted Dassault Rafale Jets for an estimated amount of Rs. 58,000 crores. A few recently inducted equipment by Indian Defence such as Prithvi Missile, Arjuna Tanks(MBT), Pinaka Multi Barrel Rocket Launcher, M-777 artillery, Apache Choppers, Chinook Helicopters, Rafale Jets, INS Arihant, INS Kalveri etc. are high end machines that deploy more cost and time to training. Virtual Reality simulation enhances to maintain a balance between cost, engagement and efficiency. The real time warfare experience provided by these advanced computer aided technologies can attract more cadets to join the forces by minimizing the training duration after graduation.Therefore, more people are encouraged to join the services and that makes an impact as collective strengths of individuals is what forms a ‘Nation’. A strong nation is always a better and a greater nation. Jai Hind!
“When a nation is surrounded by weaponized nations, she has to equip herself”. — by Dr A.P. J. Abdul Kalam.