Virtual Training for Wherever the Fight Takes You

From first-person tactical gaming to simulating complex global military operations, BISim offers flexible and comprehensive simulation and training solutions

Issue 91 - May 2019

Virtual training provides military organizations with the means to train personnel on tactics, techniques and procedures, and enhance their operational readiness without risk to equipment, and without the high costs of fuel and ammunition expenditures. It also augments live training exercises by providing opportunities for repeated practice in highly realistic virtual environments and using highly accurate simulated representations of actual equipment. Because of these advantages, militaries have increasingly incorporated simulation software into their training programs. 

Bohemia Interactive Simulations’ flagship product, VBS3, is used by hundreds of thousands of defence personnel worldwide for virtual training and simulation. VBS3 provides an immersive virtual environment and a huge range of models and tools to facilitate highly impactful mission rehearsal and tactical training. With its After Action Review tool and extensive, detailed simulation, the software is designed to help defence personnel learn to think, make decisions and improve communications before undertaking live field exercises. VBS3 supports a broad range of international border security training tasks from finding and countering improvised explosive devices to observation and intelligence-gathering skills training to chemical, biological radiological and nuclear defence training. 

Comprehensive, Cutting-Edge Technology

Founded in 2001, Bohemia Interactive Simulations (BISim) is a global developer of advanced military training and simulation software. Their mission is to harness the explosive potential of technology to revolutionize training and simulation. They use the latest game-based technology and a large, experienced in-house team of engineers to develop high-fidelity, cost-effective training and simulation software products and components for defence applications.

BISim has continuously enhanced and improved its VBS technology to craft simulation solutions uniquely suited to delivering on military training use cases. From desktop training and mission rehearsal to image generation and virtual reality, VBS3 has been written by engineers “with a subject matter expert looking over the shoulder” literally thousands of small- and medium-sized capability improvements have been added to the software based on expert feedback to extend its training use cases, enhance realism and maximize training value.

“BISim offers a comprehensive, cutting-edge technology portfolio encompassing desktop training, simulation host, image generation, terrain editing and management, AI and software development tools, all integrated to provide superior workflow,” said Craig Turner, BISim’s Business Development Director. “Our open and modular commercial-off-the-shelf software products can be customized by users or enhanced by our large technical team who have broad and deep expertise in developing training and simulation solutions for military and defence organizations worldwide.” 

With over 18 years of BISim’s own investment in research & development and support from customer funding, they’ve been able to continuously drive significant functionality, usability and performance improvements across their product portfolio.  Their software is easy to use, so you can get right down to training.  

Armored Vehicle Training

Between fuel, ammo, maintenance and personnel costs, live training with vehicles and crews can quickly add up. Simulation offers a cost-efficient way to augment live training exercises. VBS3 is used extensively for military vehicle simulation across many different use cases from tank driving skills to gunnery operations training to combined arms breach visualizations. 

For the Swedish Armed Forces, BISim built a part-task trainer for the CV9040, the country’s infantry fighting vehicle, with a level of fidelity usually required for flight sims, where every button, every switch is faithfully represented. BISim also created a similar part-task trainer for Swedish vehicles for training on the Kongsberg Protector RWS. BISim developed an HTML-based user interface that represents the panels in the vehicle. These are touch-enabled so the Swedish Armed Forces can use them on touchscreens. This is really what separates a simulator from a video game. Users need to know the procedures to power on the turret and calibrate it in the simulation. 

This internal functionality of the CV9040 was only part of the project. BISim updated the ammunition simulation, so that air pressure and air temperature affect the trajectory of shots. BISim also modeled damage simulation more accurately, to show trainees what systems got damaged by a round penetrating the tank.  Finally, functionality was added to the AAR that gives trainees a special report on their targeting performance and  hardware has been integrated with the real-world control handle replicas the Swedes use from AFV Sim.

The touch-enabled control environment is a very powerful tool that gives BISim a new and unique opportunity to model and simulate, to the tiniest detail, any control panel or other internal systems of any vehicle, ship or aircraft; this way enables any kind of high-fidelity procedural training.

While this work was specific to the Swedish Armed Forces, it demonstrates the kind of complex simulation work that BISim developers are capable of accomplishing. The takeaway is this: If you’re looking to build a tank or other vehicle in VBS3 to a high degree of fidelity -- it could be a T-72, a Challenger, an Abrams, Altay Tank -- BISim can produce the same high level of detail for any tank in the world.

Hitting the Mark with VBS3

For small arms marksmanship and tactical training, soldiers and law enforcement officers have only a few options: they can head out to ranges and expend ammo shooting at paper targets or they can engage in live fire training exercises, which can be risky. VBS3 has been incorporated into virtual firing ranges for a variety of training tasks by companies such as Meggitt Training Systems, Laser Shot and Savronik of Turkey. 

VBS3 has also been integrated into simulators for training on air defence missile systems such as the RBS-70, used by the Australian Defence Force. BAE Systems, a global defence, aerospace and security company, engaged BISim to integrate its VBS3 and VBS IG products into the Advanced Air Defence Simulator (AADS) used by ADF personnel to train in a simulated RBS-70 platform (Ground to Air Missile System).  An integration was also completed by Havelsan into their Parachuting Simulator as proof of concept.

The AADS trainer is displayed on a 5-meter dome via 27 projectors. The architecture involves using VBS3 as the host, scenario generator & IOS, and VBS IG (the predecessor to VBS Blue IG) to drive the dome and binoculars, allowing an operator to work with his team, including at least one team member with a set of binoculars. The system helps the ADF save on the costs of live fire exercises, which can cost as much as $200,000 per fire, according to BAE.

State-of-the-Art Virtual World Training

Since 2013, and drawing on feedback from and experience of working with both military and prime contractor partners, BISim has been re-architecting the VBS engine to be modular, easy to use and “future-proof” in accordance with emerging training requirements and advances in the game industry. 

The work to re-architect the VBS engine involved the creation of BISim’s Gears software development framework, an open and modular framework for building software applications. Gears has been presented to NATO and the U.S. Department of Defence for consideration as a modular gaming architecture standard. Gears Studio, a new integrated development environment based on this technology, is included with BISim’s software developer kits to streamline the development of modular software products and components.

In 2015, BISim introduced VBS Blue, a new planetary rendering engine that represents another key component of our modular approach to the future VBS framework. It represents an innovative new rendering engine that combines procedurally generated content with the ability to merge in geo-specific details like satellite textures. In 2018, BISim released VBS Blue IG, a high-performance, CIGI-compliant, 3D whole-earth image generator designed to support the full spectrum of land, sea, and air use cases for collective and individual training. VBS Blue IG is already in use for simulation projects ranging from JTAC, VR dismounted soldier training, gunner, VR/AR part-task training, full-motion driver simulation, and flight training devices across the land, sea and air domains.

These new modular technologies have been developed in large part to support the U.S. Army’s Synthetic Training Environment (STE) initiative, which aims to bring together virtual, constructive and gaming training environments into a single unified architecture. This ambitious project will enable simulation systems Army-wide to leverage a persistent virtual world for any imaginable training need.

Over the years, many of BISim’s customers have benefited from improvements in the commercial baseline versions of BISim’s products. The work to develop virtual simulation technologies to support the U.S. Army’s STE initiative will surely benefit NATO allies by providing them with new and innovative ways to train military personnel and enhance their operational readiness for wherever the fight takes them.

In 2019, BISim is pleased to announce that they are now working with multiple Turkish customers through their official partners, HISKO, companies include Havelsan, Savronik, SDT, Altay, Agena and Aselsan.  They are also looking forward to working with Roketsan, Simsoft, BITES and others throughout the year. Some of these companies will also be showing VBS3-based solutions at IDEF.  BISim is currently working extensively in Qatar within the wargaming domain and has the ability to connect many CGF systems, like ONESAF, JCATS and MASA SWORD together to provide a tactical virtual environment for commanders. Academically, BISim provides many countries with an Academic Program and offers software solutions for many global universities, including ODTU TSK MODSIMMER in Turkey. 

We thank SSB for their continued support and interest in BISim as a potential solution to some of their projects and look forward to working on many other projects for the Turkish Armed Forces in the future.