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An F-22 Pilot in a Real Jet Just Took on China’s J-20 in Augmented Reality

An American veteran F-22 pilot just took on a virtual representation of China’s Chengdu J-20 stealth fighter from the seat of a very real aircraft in flight. The Chinese fighter was projected on the pilot’s augmented reality helmet-mounted display, giving a real pilot in a real aircraft the opportunity to train against a seemingly real foreign opponent. According to the two firms responsible for the test, this marks the first time such an engagement with a virtual adversary has ever been achieved.

In a story first covered by Thomas Newdick at The Warzone, U.S. companies Red 6 and EpiSci announced the successful test of their augmented reality training program earlier this week. Their veteran F-22 pilot participated in the test from the stick of a Freeflight Composites Berkut 560 experimental aircraft. Inside the cockpit, he wore a helmet that included an augmented reality display that projected the image of his opponent, China’s J-20, in his field of view. The enemy aircraft was not controlled by another aviator, but was instead a reactive adversary controlled by EpiSci’s Tactical AI technology.

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Pentagon Eyeing More Advanced Virtual, Augmented Reality Headwear

Technology improvements driven by the commercial sector are expected to yield virtual and augmented reality goggles that solve many of the problems associated with the headsets being used by the U.S. military today, experts say.

Virtual reality, or VR, immerses users in a computer generated environment, such as video gaming. Augmented reality, or AR, transposes data or other digitally created images on top of a real-world field of view, such as the yellow first-down marker or the orange strike zone box that TV viewers see when watching football or baseball games.

VR and AR headgear can improve the way troops train for high-end fights against advanced adversaries by providing digitally created enemy forces or other environmental factors that they might encounter in a real battle, officials have noted.

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