Augmented reality headset stands out in Army 2021 budget request

The Army's is touting the deployment of new augmented reality goggles to combat troops as an example of the practical outcome of a relentless focus on modernization and zero-based budgeting.

The Army's budgeting process has endured shakeups over the past few years thanks to the zero-based budgeting process called "night court" -- and the 2021 $178 billion request is no different.

But with an increased focus on modernization, this year's request has a clear standout: the initial fielding of augmented-reality infused night goggles called IVAS.

Lt. Gen. Thomas Horlander, Military Deputy to the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Financial Management and Comptroller) said at an Association of the U.S. Army event Feb. 18 that such tech investments were key to the "deterrence factor."

"We've done a pretty vast redistribution of funding within that [research, development and acquisition] portfolio," Horlander told reporters following the event. "It's the deterrence factor. Nobody goes and picks a fight with a guy they know they can't beat up," he said. "So to have all these capabilities at a good state of maturity, that's what we've got to achieve."

The Army wants to procure 40,219 Integrated Visual Augmentation System units that overly data, including map displays and simulated images for training. The heads up display is also connected to a soldier's weapon sensor onto a single platform that also combines individual assessment and biometrics information.

Those units are expected to go to 100,000 close combat forces, Maj. Gen. Paul Chamberlain, the Army's budget director told reporters Feb. 11, who will use IVAS in the course of their normal training events.

The Army has been testing and developing the system since 2018 and no units are slated to be purchased in fiscal 2020. The final version of the heads up display, based on the Microsoft Hololens 2, will likely be fielded by the end of fiscal 2021.

Such tech investment is largely dependent on other transaction agreements, a mechanism that allows DOD to quickly buy technology. IVAS is an OTA product and a process that Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said ultimately saves money.

"Contractually it is a little more latitude to work with a contractor to study through prototyping the types of characteristics you want because they may have a better way of getting to the outcome than we want so we were doing this with the IVAS program, we are doing this on our next generation squad weapon," McCarthy said during a Feb. 15 speaking event at the National Press Club.

"So we tried doing it the old way and…we missed pretty big, but we learned a lot. We spent $23 million instead of spending $2.3 billion like we would have done a decade ago."

The Army's research, development, and acquisition portfolio for fiscal 2021 rose slightly (0.3%) but cuts were also made on the tech side.

More than $30 million was cut from the Distributed Common Grounds Systems, an intelligence-based system that helps commanders visualize the operational environments and better understand threats and other relevant aspects of the operational environment, for procurement (20.6 million) and research ($10.5 million) due to a program delay.

Smaller cuts to research dollars for defensive cyber operations ($26,000) and procurement funds for defensive cyber tools ($1.7 million) were due to schedule or operational needs "allowing for program delay." The Army also asked for $11.7 million less in procurement funds for its web-based battlefield encryption program, Key Management Infrastructure, because it has sufficient quantities.

The Army's biggest increases go to personnel pay raises at 4.8% followed by 3.6% in operations and maintenance. But Horlander said that $178 billion ask needs to increase at least 3% every year to keep pace with readiness needs.

Horlander said comprehensive audits, and "deep dives" like the night court process, should be standard to ensure taxpayer money is being well spent, but there will be friction in coming years when more than 30 of the Army's signature modernization programs enter prototyping -- unless the budget increases at least 3% every year.

"There are some real difficult decisions on the horizon," Horlander said. "Some of these modernization programs, when we start to pilot them, then we start to want to field them, that's when we're going to see some really tough decisions made."

There are 34 signature programs. Most of them, if not all of them, are on a very good course," with prototypes scheduled to come out in 2023 and fielded in 2025.

The Army said it had $1.4 billion reforms savings that matched the Pentagon's requirements and had more than $1 billion in other savings thanks to the recently adopted zero-budgeting or night court process. The Army said its cost-savings were reinvested and used to fund the Cross Functional Teams' modernization efforts, such as network and soldier lethality capabilities like IVAS.

Photo credit: Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) capability set during an exercise at Fort Belvoir, VA in Fall 2019. (Army photo by Courtney Bacon)

This article first appeared on FCW, a partner site of Defense Systems. 



X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.