MetaVR, Inc.

MetaVR News Volume XVI, Issue 1 April 24, 2012  


MetaVR creates 3D real–time environments that provide the fidelity of geospecific simulation with game quality graphics and performance.

This issue focuses on the return on investment that simulation provides. According to ASDNews* the military equipment-to-simulator hourly cost ratio is ten to one, meaning simulation enables significant cost savings. According to the news source, "The global financial crisis, the US economic crisis, and the European debt crisis are expected to negatively impact defense expenditure and lead to further defense budget cuts. In such weak financial conditions countries are looking for cost-effective alternatives to traditional training missions and procuring military simulators."  

In this issue:
35.A – Continued VRSG Sales for Universal Ground Control Station Simulator
35.B – Additional VRSG Licenses to USAF DMOC and ASOS Sites for JTAC Training
35.C – Embry-Riddle Chooses VRSG for its New UAS Lab
35.D – Sandia Research’s Use of VRSG in its UAV Performance Assessment Tool
35.E – Grayling Air Gunnery Range Obtains Standalone JTAC Training Capability
35.F – Substantial New Model Content in Version 5.7 Update Release of VRSG

  Shadow RQ-7B IE 35.A

Continued VRSG Sales for Universal Ground
Control Station Simulator

AAI Corporation recently purchased 51 new VRSG licenses for use in its Universal Ground Control System (UGCS).

The UGCS is a NATO standardization agreement 4586-compliant command-and-control platform based on AAI’s One System architecture. It incorporates a digital Tactical Common Data Link (TCDL) for robust bandwidth and data security, and is designed to command and control multiple joint services UASs simultaneously.

Since 2002, AAI has purchased over 450 VRSG licenses for ongoing fielding in its embedded Shadow Crew Trainer (SCT) One System Ground Control Station. These licenses support embedded trainers in Hunter, Shadow TUAS, Aerosonde, and Grey Eagle unmanned aerial systems, which are used by U.S. Army and Army National Guard units. AAI also uses 109 MetaVR VRSG licenses for its Shadow Training Aids, Devices, Simulators, and Simulations (TADSS) desktop training suite. AAI produces and supports a complete family of advanced tactical unmanned aircraft systems, including Shadow systems flown by the U.S. Army, National Guard, and Marine Corps.

The SCT is a mission-level training device that enables users to train on their specific roles, as well as team-level communication and mission rehearsal. In June 2011, the SCT was granted accreditation by the U.S. Army Aviation Center Directorate of Simulation. This means that users can log SCT hours as flight hours toward their overall requirements for Shadow UAS training. The simulated flight hours reduce air frame fatigue expenditure that would normally occur as students would train to become proficient using the real aircraft.

Delivered with the 51 new VRSG licenses is a brand new 3D model of the Shadow RQ-7B Increased Endurance (IE) UAS which is available at no charge to users on active maintenance.

  JTAC Training 35.B

Additional VRSG Licenses to USAF DMOC and ASOS
Sites for JTAC Training

Recently, the US Air Force Distributed Mission Operations Center (DMOC) at Kirtland Air Force Base, which has used MetaVR Virtual Reality Scene Generator (VRSG) for Distributed Mission Operations (DMO) exercises since 1997, received 17 new VRSG licenses and computers for use in its JTAC-TACP/Operational Simulation Suite (J-T/OSS). The J-T/OSS is used for Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTAC) training. The J-T/OSS is being fielded as an interim solution for the Joint Terminal Control Training and Rehearsal System (JTC TRS). Eleven (11) of the VRSG licenses will be installed at several Air Support Operations Squadron (ASOS) sites.

In the fielded J-T/OSS, VRSG, used in its first person shooter designator mode, populates the JTAC coordinate location field critical to the functionality of the integrated Tactical Air Control Party Close Air Support System (TACP-CASS) component of J-T/OSS. Built on the FalconView PC-based mapping application, the TACP CASS connects to the DMO network, which facilitates messaging between JTACs from one TACP CASS to another.

As the TACP CASS moving map system displays a 2D map of the same area of geospecific terrain that VRSG renders in 3D, the two applications work together seamlessly.

Also in the J-T/OSS, VRSG is used in a UAV regeneration station, for networked environments that do not have the bandwidth to handle the streaming MPEG of the VRSG-simulated UAV camera payload video directly.

The regeneration station is a computer that uses MUSE UAV telemetry to capture the streaming video in the form of data packets over low bandwidth networks. The data packets, in turn, are regenerated as video and streamed to a ROVER device.

VRSG is currently used in various configurations at approximately 30 ASOS sites in the US and overseas to simulate the functionality needed for JTAC warfighter training in close air support (CAS) exercises, ranging from desktop to dome systems.

The J-T/OSS enables soldiers to stay current on CAS procedures without having to travel to a live air gunnery range. The system also helps make their live training more effective by reducing the number of live training missions required to reach proficiency.

  Embry-Riddle UAS Lab

Embry-Riddle Chooses VRSG for its New UAS Lab

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) is building a new Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) simulation and training lab at its Prescott, AZ, campus. Recently the lab purchased 4 VRSG licenses and 5 Battlespace Simulations (BSI) Modern Air Combat Environment (MACE) licenses for its UAS simulation system, which will be unveiled in classes to be offered in the fall 2012 curriculum. Following in the footsteps of the ERAU Daytona Beach campus, which offers a BA in UAS and built a UAS simulation lab a few years ago, the ERAU Prescott campus currently offers a UAS minor and plans to offer it as a major in a few years.

A team evaluated various simulation software products for the ERAU Prescott lab, and decided on the VRSG and MACE solution. Within the team were members who were familiar with VRSG from having trained with it a few years ago on the Shadow TUAS Ground Control Station at Ft. Huachuca, AZ, prior to deployment to Iraq.

The evaluators made note of the realistic physics-based sensor environment VRSG and MACE provide; for example the thermal scarring left by a recently departed vehicle can be seen in VRSG. VRSG supports multiple sensor views, including white-hot, black-hot, electro-optical, and visible spectrum. From MACE, users can control the UAS flight path, set up orbits, and control the camera.

The ERAU UAS system consists of a pilot station, a payload operator station, and an instruction station (the latter will have the ability to make dynamic inputs into the students’ scenarios). Future plans for the lab include adding more airframes and replicating the setup for another UAS system.

The ERAU Prescott UAS minor focuses on training the procedural fundamentals of communication, tools, and receiving and dispersing intelligence data. The training that will be offered in this new UAS lab will focus on procedures for civilian applications such as search-and-rescue operations, fires, floods and other disasters, and supporting local law enforcement. Given the often-cited deficiency of trained UAV operators, graduating students who have proficiency and experience with real UAV systems and technology will see greater employment opportunities and a greater return on their educational investment.

  SimSystem UAV 35.D

Sandia Research’s Use of VRSG in its UAV
Performance Assessment Tool

Sandia Research Corporation (SRC) uses VRSG in its Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) research project. Using a combined VRSG and BSI MACE solution, Sandia Research engineers recently built a research test bed, called SimSystem, which monitors the behavior of participants in the roles of pilot, sensor operator, and data exploiter (navigator) as they fly missions in a shared virtual environment via DIS. SimSystem’s high-fidelity 3D simulation workstations are used by participants and their observers for a behavioral research study to evaluate human effectiveness factors associated with user interface tools used to communicate between multiple crews operating in the same battle space. Sandia researchers will record missions, introduce equipment failures, and assess performance while research participants perform their duties in an environment generated by three VRSG licenses and six MACE licenses. The results of this research will be used to steer the development of real-world next-generation UAS interface tools used by the US armed forces and DOD organizations.

In Sandia Research’s SimSystem, VRSG simulates the UAV camera payload and MACE provides the UAV flight path and semi-automated forces of characters and vehicles. The character and vehicle entities, and the static culture content are all from MetaVR’s 3D content libraries. MetaVR also delivered its new 1-meter North American terrain and its Asia terrain as part of the software order. For UAV scenarios that need to depict character activities on the ground (such as movements that resemble IED emplacement), MetaVR has developed character models with accessories such as backpacks. BSI has created some initial custom screen interfaces, as a starting point for the project, which Sandia researchers will modify as needed as testing goes on. Sandia chose the VRSG and MACE solution because they wanted an all-in-one solution with which to fly high-fidelity virtual environments and the ability to program tasks or scenarios in a SAF environment all with fully correlated terrain.

Currently the test bed is used to study how a team communicates though a variety of modes (text, chat, radio/voice) on a shared mission, to find the most effective method of running a mission, and how the mission would still be effective in certain failure conditions. SimSystem’s flexibility enables it to be used with custom user interfaces, for recording the data needed to determine which methods work best.

Although SimSystem is not yet on the market as a product, Sandia Research is currently working with two organizations that use the system. The Cognitive Engineering Research on Team Tasks (CERTII) lab at Arizona State University at Tempe is using SimSystem for a communications study. NASA’s aeronautics division is using SimSystem to study the future technology of air traffic control, focusing on the integration of landing commercial UAVs at airports.

In addition to its use as a test bed for studying effective human performance and communication in a team situation, Sandia Research’s SimSystem can be used in standalone mode to study how a sensor operator searches for and identifies possible IED emplacements.

  Grayling JTAC Training 35.E

Grayling Air Gunnery Range Obtains Standalone
JTAC Training Capability

Recently, MetaVR and BSI teamed to develop JTAC-specific simulation capabilities, making VRSG coupled with MACE an option for training battlefield air personnel in a standalone mode. The standalone training mode means that all resources critical to JTAC training are co-located at the facility. Higher fidelity exercises are then achieved by connecting to the Iowa Distributed Training Operations Center (DTOC). The JTAC-specific simulation capabilities that were developed include a Call-for-Fire and 9-Line interface, infrared illumination, human-level control (fight or flight, building avoidance, path finding, formation control) blast effects, illumination rounds, weapons free command, and a Distributive Interactive Simulation (DIS) integrated radio.

An early customer to build a VRSG-and-MACE JTAC simulator was the Michigan Air National Guard’s Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center (CRTC) in Grayling, Michigan. The "Grayling 4m JFIRES Dome" is currently being used to train JTACs, Joint Fires Observers, Forward Observers and other warfighters conducting emergency Close Air Support (CAS) from the Air National Guard, Marine Corps, Naval Special Warfare and Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) Special Tactics Squadrons. The CRTC’s JTAC trainer is comprised of a 4-meter dome with four VRSG channels, a MACE instructor operator station, a MACE role player/pilot station with one VRSG channel dedicated to out-the-cockpit views, and another VRSG channel for the sensor view. The JTAC trainee also has two additional VRSG channels available in the form of a monocular/binocular used for laser range finding and target designation as well as a full-motion video ROVER-type feed for external targeting information. The simulator makes use of a variety of DIS tools, including DIS radios and a DIS recorder. The instructor has the ability to control all constructive entities including attacking aircraft and artillery, as well as ground entities and threats.

Because live training is expensive and constrained, the Grayling team is using the JFIRES dome to place trainees in Afghanistan-based dynamic scenarios including danger-close, force-on-force, multiple airframes, full-motion video feeds, artillery, and more. The JFIRES dome allows instructors to put new trainees through a simulated scenario on the first day of training to identify weaknesses. Using a simulated scenario significantly reduces fuel and airframe hours expenditures and minimizes the logistics associated with conducting these events in a live environment. Another advantage gained by using the MACE role player/pilot station is the ability to initiate a "training time out." This enables trainees to experience the cockpit perspective of a mutual target area and crystallize the lesson learned while assessing the key points of both a successful target talk-on and a failed one. The Grayling Range Control Officer recently stated that MACE was critical to their training efforts and future plans, which include certifying the JFIRES Dome to officially replace live aircraft controls in accordance with the Joint Close Air Support Memorandum of Agreement (JCAS MOA).

The Alpena CRTC is currently undergoing the required hardware certification process to connect the Grayling 4m JFIRES Dome to other simulations on the DTOC network.

  New Model Content 35.F

Substantial New Model Content in Version 5.7
Update Release of VRSG

MetaVR has released an update to VRSG version 5.7. The new VRSG release, version 5.7.50, contains several new features and enhancements to support simulation applications such as UAV and aerial refueling, and a new tool to convert models from the popular FBX file format to MetaVR’s model format. Version 5.7.50, released on April 16, 2012, also includes substantial new 3D content. Over 150 new military models have been added to MetaVR’s military model library since May 2011. New models include the aforementioned RQ-7B Increased Endurance (IE) model, and the S-97 model which is currently featured on the home page of MetaVR’s website and is the subject of a new video on Youtube demonstrating VRSG and BSI’s MACE. In addition, over 1,000 new cultural feature models (such as street, marketplace, and airfield elements, and buildings and other structures) have been built for MetaVR’s 3D model libraries since the initial release of VRSG version 5.7 in May 2011.

MetaVR customers on active maintenance can obtain the latest release of VRSG version 5.7 by downloading the version 5.7.50 software and model libraries from their account on MetaVR’s Download Server. If you prefer, you can also simply download the latest models. Customers on active maintenance can request an account on MetaVR’s Download Server by sending a request to

You can check the About tab on the VRSG Dashboard to determine the maintenance status of a VRSG license. Annual software maintenance is U.S. $1,500 per license and can be purchased on the MetaVR website by clicking "How to Buy" or by sending a formal request for quote with your MetaVR dongle ID to


* ASDNews


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