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Integrated with BAE Systems’ Hawk fast jet trainer, Red 6’s Advanced Tactical Augmented Reality Systems can provide Red Air and synthetic training against near-peer adversaries.

BAE Systems used the I/ITSEC 2022 trade show in Orlando, Florida on 29 November to announce it has signed an MoU with US-based Red 6 to explore integration of an augmented reality system onto the Hawk fast jet trainer aircraft.

Using Red 6’s Advanced Tactical Augmented Reality Systems (ATARS), Hawk pilots will be able to see, identify and engage virtual threats and cooperate with virtual wingmen while airborne.

Under the MoU, the partners will seek to understand how BAE Systems’ experience in training and helmet-mounted displays can be fused with Red 6’s ATARS technology. Unlike some other AR technologies, ATARS can work outdoors in a high-speed and dynamic environment.

Daniel Robinson, founder and CEO of Red 6, said at a press briefing at I/ITSEC 2022, that the company recognised a huge problem for air forces.

‘The United States Air Force is at its lowest state of readiness in twenty-five years. Currently, 2,000 pilots short and with a requirement to double the number of training sorties by 2030, the current approach to training is in crisis,’ he said.

‘The United States Air Force is at its lowest state of readiness in twenty-five years.’— Daniel Robinson, founder and CEO, Red 6

ATARS provides Red Air training resources to every squadron, allowing unlimited, synthetic training against near-peer adversaries. This reduces the number of available platforms, pilots and instructors needed at one given time.

Lucy Walton, head of training, BAE Systems’ air sector, said: ’The modern battlespace is becoming increasingly complex and contested and integrating technology such as Red 6’s augmented reality with the Hawk aircraft is key as we prepare pilots for life in a fast jet cockpit for decades to come.’

The partners could not give an exact answer as to when the integration will be completed, but they said the companies are working hard to do it ‘as soon as possible’.

Although this partnership sets out to address the more immediate needs of air forces – particularly Hawk users – when questioned by Shephard, Walton said BAE Systems would ‘absolutely’ consider this effort as preliminary works for the UK’s Future Combat Aircraft System/Tempest programme.

She said: ‘We’re in this really unique position with the Typhoon and Tempest that we can explore AR on efficacies and this is something that we’re looking at.’

Robinson echoed this by saying: ‘The focus was on training, but there are massive applications for operational use cases of AR and AI in the context of future air dominance platforms, with FCAS being one of them.’

Red 6 was contracted by Tactical Funding Increase (TACFI), an implementation of the USAF SBIR/STTR Supplemental Funding Pilot Program in 2021 to integrate its ATARS system into the T-38 Talon, but Robinson told Shephard the integration has not yet been completed.

The Hawk fast jet trainer is used by the UK, Canada, Finland, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Zimbabwe and other countries.

Red 6 completed its first augmented reality training mission with multiple aircraft last summer.