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The trend toward live, virtual, constructive or mixed-reality training is rising and raising investment and innovation in the United States Department of Defense (DoD) training and simulation market. With mobile and distributed training capabilities becoming more important to meet the challenges of high operations tempo and dynamic technological changes, industry participants must continue to develop secure and realistic virtual environments while adding live elements as requirements and technology dictate.

“New technologies such as augmented reality(AR) and virtual reality (VR) devices are transforming how training is handled,” Frost & Sullivan Aerospace & Defense Research Director Michael Blades, told businessinsider.com. “These technologies can provide individual or group training in a virtual environment while enabling personalized training, combat readiness, and repetition at a low cost.”

Recent research from Frost & Sullivan, US DoD Training and Simulation Market, Forecast to 2021, finds that the Navy is expected to spend the most on training and simulation, between $6 billion and $6.12 billion each year from 2016 to 2021.

U.S. defense firms’ main competition is coming from European firms, such as Saab, Thales, and Leonardo, which have comparable training technologies. A strong U.S. dollar will mean more partnerships between U.S. and European companies as U.S. companies maximize their exposure to European training contracts when foreign military sales (FMS) are deemed too costly. Strategic imperatives for success and growth in the U.S. DoD training and simulation market include:

Technologies such as AR and VR goggles to provide immersive training and optimize the live/virtual training balance; Utilizing secure global networks and smart devices such as phones, tablets, and AR/VR goggles to provide training anytime and anywhere to reduce the need for generalized, time-consuming training courses and evaluating where inexpensive motion cueing systems can replace expensive full-motion simulators while still providing required training.

“The DoD continues to emphasize mixed-reality training programs with secure networking. However, military budget uncertainties have been and will continue to be the top constraint to investment in new and innovative training and simulation technologies,” noted Blades. “Leveraging partnerships with flexible, software-focused commercial technology firms through the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx) should lead to faster, more innovative solutions if executed properly.”