Army’s Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) Nears Fielding with Final Testing in 2024

The U.S. Army is on the brink of fielding the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS), a cutting-edge augmented reality device designed to enhance individual soldiers' shooting accuracy, navigation, and the utilization of soldier-built applications for various tasks. The IVAS project, funded with a staggering $22 billion, is now entering its final testing phases in 2024.

The Army began its journey with IVAS by procuring early versions, labeled IVAS 1.0 and 1.1, in late 2022, while concurrently developing the more ruggedized and field-worthy 1.2 version. Confirming the acquisition of funding for 5,000 sets of IVAS 1.0 in 2022 and an additional 5,000 sets of IVAS 1.1 in 2023, officials disclosed that these versions would be deployed to training units and schoolhouses for soldiers to familiarize themselves with the technology.

Microsoft, the brains behind the IVAS, based the device on its HoloLens augmented reality platform. In mid-2023, Microsoft delivered 20 prototypes of the IVAS 1.2 version, which underwent live-fire testing for weapons compatibility checks with the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, New York, in mid-August.

The latest version, IVAS 1.2, boasts a flip-up helmet mount, addressing the previous issues of cabling and providing a more practical solution akin to currently fielded night vision devices. One of its key features is the wireless connection to an individual’s weapon sight, offering a picture-in-picture view from both the weapon-mounted camera and the device’s heads-up display.

During demonstrations at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, the IVAS showcased its capability to see through obscurants like fog or dust using thermal vision. The system allows shooters to fire around obstacles by utilizing the weapon camera while remaining under cover.

Apart from enhancing shooting accuracy, the IVAS serves multiple purposes such as navigation, training applications, and tactical scenarios. It enables users to create 3D maps of terrain, follow compass points in the heads-up display, and identify friendly and enemy locations. The device can also load a "sand table" or internal map of a shoot house in tactical scenarios and record position information during team movements for immediate after-action reviews following shooting training.

Furthermore, the IVAS allows soldiers to operate microdrones for scouting purposes and capturing imagery of targets, which can be sent to its tactical cloud package for rendering a 3D map of the terrain. This cloud package, running on a briefcase-sized device at the small unit level, facilitates data sharing and application uploads.

The IVAS seamlessly connects with the existing Nett Warrior smartphone-based Tactical Assault Kit, enabling users to share information and upload various applications. Brig. Gen. Christopher Schneider, PEO-Soldier commander, emphasized the potential of the IVAS in creating apps for medical evacuations, providing a nine-line report, or offering augmented reality options for medics to perform field surgery under the guidance of a remote doctor.

With 80 more devices scheduled for delivery in 2024 and an additional 200 slated for 2025, the IVAS is on track for fielding in the same year, marking a significant leap forward in the Army's technological arsenal.

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