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NEWS | Feb. 18, 2020

Innovating in virtual reality

By Senior Airman Tristan Biese 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

U.S. Air Force Airmen from the 547th Intelligence Squadron, Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, visited Joint Base Langley-Eustis Feb. 12, 2020, to showcase their virtual reality system.

The 547th IS uses the VR system primarily for training aircrew and intelligence personnel through software that provides equipment familiarization, aircraft recognition and an overview of Red Flag exercise operations.

“VR allows us to view things from any angle,” said Capt. Eric Rubenstein, 547th IS deputy flight commander. “We're introducing [VR] into a training program that gives analysts something a little bit different than reading off of a PowerPoint slide. Instead of a block of text that describes, for example, how a radar system works, and what makes it effective, why not visualize it and show its capabilities?”

The equipment is comprised of a laptop, headset, one controller for each hand, sensors that detect the position of the headset and controllers, and software that allows them to be put into different environments.

All the equipment to run the VR system costs approximately $1,600 versus the amount it cost to run certain equipment or aircraft or even to travel and participate in an exercise.

“The expenses themselves are quite low compared to actually sending someone out to training,” said Senior Airman Ronald Randall, 547th IS instructor. “Training this way is so valuable and people actually enjoy it because this is something that steps outside of normal training.”

While the VR is relatively new, the 547th IS would like to further their capabilities and implement it more throughout their duties and in the Air Force as a whole.

“The world is changing at a pace and scale – and our adversaries are competing in ways – that we haven’t seen before,” said Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Stephen W. Wilson “We have to change. We need Airmen to help move our Air Force forward, because the status quo just doesn’t suffice in today’s world.”