Real F-15 joins massively multiplayer virtual war
US jet aces join sim wingman in VR combat
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. ®
There's the Conquerers too
Timothy Zahn (one of my favorite SF writers) penned the Conquerors trilogy in which future pilots are jacked Matrix-style into an "augmented" reality where their own persona becomes part of a larger consciousness. Okay, my words, but that's the idea.
The nickname "Copperhead" was due to the physical jack at the base of the brain that interfaced the pilot and the enhanced reality machine.
A good read. Looks like we're starting down that path at last.
It's already a book.
Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card.
Next step is to put the pilot in the simulator and the wingman in the plane itself to handle things the automated stuff can't do. Then you train 12 year olds with incredibly fast reflexes into thinking they're just playing a game when in fact they're killing real people and bombing real cities.
Ender's Game, when science fiction is closer to reality than I'm really comfortable with.
Someone once said that simulators were like masturbation, the more you do it the more you become convinced that its better than the real thing.