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NEWS | March 14, 2023

IVAS’ Campaign of Learning Ensures Development, Production and Fielding Remain on Track

By Frederick Shear Army

The Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) will change the way Soldiers fight, rehearse, and train. IVAS is a single platform featuring a day/night, all-weather fighting goggle and a mixed reality heads-up display that integrates next-generation situational awareness tools and high-resolution simulations to provide Soldiers with improved mobility and lethality in combat environments.

IVAS improves Soldier mission planning, decision-making and targeting through its sensing, mapping, and computing capabilities.

Over the past year, the Army tested, evaluated, and refined IVAS’ capabilities in a manner that will result in improved systems being incrementally fielded to Soldiers over the next several years – IVAS 1.0, IVAS 1.1 and IVAS 1.2 variants.

Last June, IVAS completed its Operational Test, during which Soldiers trained on IVAS 1.0 systems in company-level missions and live-fire exercises. As with all assessments, the Army gained an understanding of baseline capability while identifying areas for focused improvement. The Army determined that IVAS successfully demonstrated several transformational capabilities, but three areas prevented the systems from achieving Soldier acceptance: reliability, low-light sensor performance and form factor.

The Army and its industry partner, Microsoft, used the lessons learned from testing to address concerns and adjust its fielding plan. Despite some revisions to the fielding timeline, the developmental process for IVAS will result in fielding several years ahead of standard acquisition programs.

“We are using flexibilities for rapid prototyping and rapid fielding provided by Congress to fix issues identified during evaluations and further develop IVAS in an innovative and efficient manner,” said Col. Troy Denomy, Project Manager Soldier Warrior (PM SWAR), the Army office overseeing IVAS’ development.

To specifically address reliability, in November 2022, Microsoft and the Army incorporated a new software release into IVAS 1.0 resulting in a more stable and reliable user experience. Software improvement is a continuous effort that will transcend all current and future versions of IVAS.

The results of the operational test and the projected improvements to IVAS led the Army to begin accepting delivery of 5,000 IVAS 1.0 systems in 2022. These systems were funded by the original IVAS production contract award in March 2021. The IVAS 1.0 systems will be fielded to training and doctrine units next year to support the Army’s Campaign of Learning, an ongoing process that gathers and incorporates feedback from user studies, user assessments, Soldier Touch Points, and operational demonstrations to improve IVAS’ performance.

In December 2022, the Army ordered 5,000 IVAS 1.1 systems from Microsoft. IVAS 1.1 upgrades reliability and features an improved low-light sensor that performs comparable to the PVS-14 night vision goggles. These systems will be delivered and fielded in Fiscal Year (FY) 2024.

The Army awarded an IVAS 1.2 technology insertion effort to Microsoft in December 2022, with the anticipation of moving to production in late FY2024 and fielding to operational units beginning as early as 4Q FY2025. The majority of the close combat force will receive IVAS 1.2; this version features an improved form factor in addition to reliability and low-light sensor upgrades, as well as a lower profile heads-up display (HUD) with distributed counterweight for improved user interface and comfort. In total, the Army plans to field approximately 121,500 IVAS systems as standard gear to close combat Soldiers.

So far, the Army has conducted over 30 Soldier test events and more than 100 technical sub-tests with more than 1,000 Soldiers contributing nearly 100,000 hours of user feedback for IVAS. This process will continue as the Army develops IVAS 1.2 and these feedback events will be used to refine the form factor redesign and result in a more balanced center of gravity and less obstructed vision while improving compatibility with other platforms.

Furthermore, IVAS features a Tactical Cloud Package (TCP) that provides improved situational awareness, edge of war computing and integration with the Army’s Integrated Tactical Network (ITN). It will also allow squads and Soldiers to access cloud-based Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning (AI/ML) tools at the tactical edge. These capabilities give Soldiers more information to make informed, timely decisions and offer virtually unlimited opportunities for extensibility.

In recent exercises, such as Project Convergence, the Army has shown a number of different ways IVAS can be used on the battlefield, ranging from ingesting video and data from small Unmanned Aerial Systems to integrating with ground and air platform sensors to provide Soldiers the ability to see what the platform drivers, commanders and pilots see before dismounting into a hazardous situation.

“No system in the Army inventory is capable of providing the range of options for our Soldiers as IVAS – its transformative and disruptive technology does not exist anywhere in the world,” said Denomy. “We are fully committed to IVAS. We are listening to the feedback we receive, and we will provide our Soldiers the best versions of IVAS that will enable them to succeed in their missions.”