Royal Signals trial VR system to hone battlefield skills

Posted on 28 July, 2023 by Advance 

Over 40 troops from Tidworth-based 207 Armoured Signal Squadron, 15 Signal Regiment recently test-drove the Interim Combined Arms Virtual Simulation (Deployable) (ICAVS (D)), a virtual reality (VR) system that delivers combined arms training to the UK military.


The Royal Signals using the new VR training system.
Courtesy British Army

This computer-based training simulator uses Xbox and PlayStation controllers, VR headsets and steering wheels and pedals to control avatars within a virtual world. Soldiers can test out their driving, manoeuvre and fighting skills without leaving the comfort of camp.

Lieutenant Sam Cuthbertson, 207 Armoured Signal Squadron Operations Officer said: “The ICAVS is an excellent alternative to using our Bulldog armoured fleet, with many of the vehicles located out in Germany. It helps us keep our drivers and commanders up to date with their training.”

This is the first time the Royal Signals have used ICAVS, which also dramatically reduces both the cost and carbon footprint of training compared with a 'live' equivalent.

Signaller Pasquini, a 207 Armoured Signal Squadron Bulldog driver, said: “The staff generate different scenarios to test our skills, from crossing rivers to dealing with enemy forces. The controls are very similar to what most of us are used to with our own gaming consoles, so it was very quick to pick up.”

The ICAVS system reached full operating capability last year when the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers tested it during a training event at Tidworth, Salisbury Plain.

Using the latest high-specification hardware and Defence Virtual Simulation software, it delivers immersive, tactical training in the Army’s Battlecraft Syllabus, enabling units to get the most out of their live field-training exercises.

The system provides the ability to conduct combined arms collective training, mission rehearsal and experimentation in complex environments at a time and place of the units’ choosing.

ICAVS(D) is used by all arms and services in the British Army as well as the Royal Marines and members of Joint Helicopter Command. It replaced the Unit Based Virtual Trainer in April this year.

There are currently four ICAVS(D) units available at any time and the system is easily deployable around the UK and overseas.

It complements unit delivered e-platform crew training to Battle Group level training and is contributing to the Army’s modernisation and transformation plan, Future Soldier.

However, no amount of virtual training can completely remove the need for live training. In the autumn, 207 Armoured Signal Squadron will deploy to Germany on an armoured exercise that will test the skills they have been rehearsing using ICAVS.

Designed as a pathfinder project for the Army’s Collective Training Transformation Programme, ICAVS(D) was procured by Defence Equipment and Support and is developed and delivered by Elbit Systems UK.

Martin Fausset, CEO of Elbit Systems UK, said: “ICAVS(D) reaching Full Operational Capability is a significant milestone in our contribution to providing advanced training to the British Army.

“Our platform will streamline the Army’s ability to maintain operational readiness for front-line duties.”