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Real F-15 joins massively multiplayer virtual war

US jet aces join sim wingman in VR combat

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Aerospace behemoth Boeing has announced a possibly worrying new breakthrough in simulators, revealing yesterday that company boffins have linked real combat aircraft into virtual training wargames.

According to Boeing, this is an "industry first". Apparently, a real F-15E Strike Eagle jet - one of America's most potent warplanes - was hooked up to a worldwide, massively multiplayer air battle game called the Distributed Mission Operations Network.

The real pilot in his real jet, teaming up with a wingman who was in a ground simulator, then took on and engaged non-existent targets which appeared on the F-15 targeting displays. It's quite normal for modern aviators to shoot at things without ever laying eyeballs on them, using longer-range weapons such as AMRAAM (for enemy planes) or JSOW (for ground targets).

"Today's event marked a huge leap in demonstrating Boeing's state-of-the-art technology," Boeing veep Tony Jones said.

"To be able to link a real aircraft with a simulator and train is amazing. Most people just talk about this capability, but Boeing is delivering it."

Boeing reckons this kind of VR-mixed-with-reality will reduce training costs for multi-ship missions. They say "a training exercise that would have required six operational aircraft and aircrew now requires only one."

We'll leave it to you to speculate on the possible results of people on the ground being able to inject information including targets into the weapons displays of combat jets (though to be fair, people in AWACS planes or using ground air-defence radars have been able to do this for some time).

It seems ironic all the same that even real jet aces have to use MMOGs to get their kicks. A little more from Boeing here. ®

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