Government | Defense

Virtual Tactical Assault Kit

Virtual reality training robust enough for military-grade operations

Situation

The United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Warfighter Support Office wanted to bring virtual reality to the warfighter. 

They were looking to build out the Tactical Assault Kit (TAK), their open-standards software platform currently used by 250,000 military and civilians across the world to communicate and share environment information in real-time. TAK was an innovative shift from cumbersome radio communication, paper maps, and signal mirrors. TAK has multiple versions, including ATAK for Android mobile devices, WinTAK for Windows, and iTAK for Apple iPhone, all of which let operators share resources and navigate using GPS and accurate map data.

“We see VTAK as the natural evolution of situational awareness for mission planning and execution. We want to provide operators with the ability to fully immerse themselves in a target environment prior to conducting an operation at that location. VTAK is enabling this goal. During a recent training event at a MOUT site, operators unfamiliar with the location were given the opportunity to explore the site in VTAK prior to conducting training. After those individuals returned from the target, they described the location as being ‘like they had been there before’. This is the level of immersion we are looking for.”- Peter N. Scott, Development Lead, Comm Apps

Challenge

Virtual Heroes was tasked with creating an entirely new version of TAK, using virtual reality to take training, environment sharing,  and navigation to the next level.

 

The key challenge to overcome was ensuring that the new virtual reality approach for TAK both worked with existing deployed TAK technologies and, crucially, met the needs of the warfighter.

MISSION READINESS

ARA’s government-site Operator Tactical Intranet System team has worked directly with USSOCOM for seven years on the TAK program. Virtual Heroes was ideally positioned to tackle this challenge, thanks to our unique combination of technical know-how (networking, software development, integration, engineering, virtual reality, and more) and deep subject-matter expertise in TAK, Special Ops, and field-ready military technology. This experience lets us rapidly deliver solutions for current capability gaps, as well as forecast and proactively address emerging requirements.

IMPLEMENTATION

The result was VTAK: the Virtual Tactical Assault Kit.


This advanced system enables warfighters to perform mission planning and rehearsal in full 3D space, rather than looking at a flat screen. Soldiers don a virtual reality headset and interact with a geographically accurate 3D environment that’s built from real-world, dynamically updated terrain data. Soldiers can see routes, determine bearing, and analyze lines of sight—from a God’s-eye view all the way down to boots on the ground. 

 

VTAK drastically improves situational awareness, giving users a true understanding of their surroundings. Soldiers in the field can load the latest 3D terrain maps and instantly perform reconnaissance: annotating terrain and buildings, measuring distances, placing and rotating vehicles. They can share planned routes, go/no-go zones, ground markers and imagery, and other features with all other users in the TAK network, in real-time. 

IMPACT ANALYSIS

Our VTAK and other TAK work has generated game-changing results in training, planning, rehearsals, and communicating on the battlefield. We’re proud to be part of the TAK family.

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