US Army soldiers from Fort Sill, Oklahoma, are using a mix of virtual reality (VR), augmented reality and mixed reality technologies to help the hypersonic weapon prototype development.
This innovative VR technology is providing the soldiers with a rare look at the components of the new prototype Long Range Hypersonic Weapon (LRHW).
The prototype has been perceived as an interactive, true-to-scale, three-dimensional model. This use of mixed reality technologies allows soldiers to influence the design of the system by providing feedback on improving it.
Design and development of the equipment are being carried in mixed reality Collaborative Human Immersive Laboratory (CHIL), owned by Lockheed Martin.
The company is the LRHW prototype system integrator and responsible for the delivery of the All Up Round plus Canister (AUR+C) consisting of the missile stack, the Common Hypersonic Glide Body and canister.
The CHIL lab allows collaboration in real-time using gear such as VR headsets, 3D glasses, holograms and handheld controllers.
It provides a virtual view from every angle and distance, manipulating the design according to the needs of the soldiers.
Additionally, soldiers provided feedback on low-technology items such as generator placement and access, generator exhaust routing, and specific locations for skid plates.
Fort Sill Directorate of Training and Doctrine Operational Training Division chief LTC Aaron Bright said: “We were able to stand as a group around an area called ‘the cave,’ which allowed all of us to see, in 3D, through special eyewear, the Transporter Erector Launcher and missile as one.
“I was able to grab pieces of the LRHW with my hands and move them weightlessly to the side to get a better look at another part, and to better understand how the system as a whole work. The kinds of things that would take hours with a crane, and several more hours with tools, we were doing on our own in seconds.”
The prototype system will include a 40ft Transporter Erector Launcher (TEL) with missiles and a Battery Operations Center (BOC).
Delivery of the prototype to a battery will be done by Army Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office (RCCTO).
RCCTO Army Hypersonic Project Office project integration manager COL Ian Humphrey said: “Although the LRHW is a prototype, the soldier feedback we get here provides operational input early in the process. This is not only to help inform the LRHW, but also aid in the development of the army’s hypersonic programme of record.”