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Red 6 Gets Contract To Use AR on a T-38 Training Jet

A U.S. Air Force T-38 will have an augmented reality training system for the first time.
It lets the jet dogfight against simulated Chinese and Russian fighters presented inside the pilot’s helmet. Red 6, a Florida-based tech firm, got a $70 million-worth contract from the Air Force. The firm announced Monday that over its five-year performance period, it will merge its Airborne Tactical AR System (ATARS) with Northrop T-38 Talon. They will follow it up by fusing their augmented reality system with a fourth-gen jet such as the F-16.

Daniel Robinson, the CEO, mentioned that the T-38 has an AR system and may be able to start flight tests in six to twelve months. He described it as a big and bold vision and that it is quickly becoming a reality. Robinson believes that over the next year, people could witness something transformational. The Airborne Tactical Augmented Reality System contains a custom AR headset. It is to be worn with a usual HGU-55 helmet that F-15 and F-16 pilots use. While everything is simulated in a virtual reality environment, augmented reality is a bit different. It combines digital simulations with the landscape that pilots can see outside their cockpit. For example, they may witness realistic imagery of enemy aircraft.

Co-operative Augmented Reality

Robinson said that on Monday Red 6 had its first meeting with the Air Force stakeholders to understand the technical requirements necessary to blend an AR system with the T-38. He believes that they have got a viable technological solution, but there is an immense amount of safety implications around putting the AR system into jets with pilots. Once the firm has fused the system with a single T-38, it hopes to blend a “multiplayer” version where numerous aircraft see the same digital enemies. They can then cooperate to defeat them.

Robinson wonders whether he can take a wingman up, share and interact in a sky-based game space, and also experience a game that makes sense to both of them. He further said that it is how they are thinking about the project.

Leading Figures

Although Red 6 has recently entered the world of military procurement, the firm has caught the attention of defense contractors and Air Force leaders. Mike Holmes, the former four-star general, leads its board and includes members like Will Roper, a prominent name in this field. In June 2020, the venture capital side of Lockheed Martin also invested an undisclosed value in it. The tech company’s contract is a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase III one. The AFWERX innovation hub of the Air Force awarded the firm SBIR Phase I and II contracts earlier.

Future Solutions

Winston Bennett, a member of the Air Force’s Airman Systems Directorate, described the need for innovation within training to stay competitive with their enemies. He further mentioned Red 6 and said that it is providing a solution to the present training pain points, that if resolved, could fix numerous national security problems people face currently.


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