A Conversation on Army Readiness and Modernization: Update on IVAS

Incredible feedback from the US Army on IVAS. IVAS is a modified HoloLens 2 including additional  sensors that has a FY2021 (starting October 2020) budget request to purchase ~40,000 units for  $906M. 


  • James E. McPherson, Under Secretary of the Army
  • General Joseph M. Martin, Vice Chief of Staff of the Army
  • Bradley Bowman, Senior Director, Center on Military and Political Power, FDD

BOWMAN: Sounds good. General Martin, McPherson, either one of you, can I ask you a very quickly about the Integrated Visual Augmentation System, or Bloodhound, any quick updates you might be able to provide on that?

MARTIN: Sure. Integrated Visual Augmentation System, Brad, I can get you the date, but I'd love to take you out to our next touch point. It's going to be very close to where you work and live here. We'd love to take you down there to see it. But we're continuing to make great progress with it. The program is moving out very quickly, and it's moving out very quickly because we have taken a company, a vendor, that has developed similar capability for different reasons and leveraged their ability to develop that capability and integrate the attributes that we want in that particular system. 

IVAS and these touch points that we've done with the soldiers over time, the first two touch points, and there's been many other smaller touch points that we've done, has allowed this company to take feedback very quickly. In fact, they change things sometimes the day that you ask them to change something, particularly if it's related to software, or even hardware in some cases, but these touch points have allowed us to develop this capability a lot quicker than the traditional acquisition process. I don't have the exact timeline in front of me, but what is prototype is going to eventually become a limited rate production. We're going to be able to operationally test this as a unit. 

This Bloodhound unit you're talking about, is a game changing capability where you're able to take every soldier who has IVAS and turn them into a sensor. As they sense the environment around them, all the data that they're collecting, it's not something they have to do themselves, it's collected naturally through this network, is brought into this Bloodhound. In the Bloodhound, you can take this data and share it with a greater network. It is absolutely game changing. We've never had a capability like this. Brad, I got to tell you, I've seen pictures of soldiers serving from World War II until now. We have provided new equipment to our dismounted soldiers. I don't want to discount any efforts that the United States Army's done, but we've never done what we're doing now in terms of providing them a new automatic weapon, a new rifle with game changing capability, dominate your peer adversary in terms of range and penetrating power with new munitions that you strike. I had the opportunity to shoot one of our sniper weapons and one of our rifles a couple of weeks ago at Aberdeen. 

MCPHERSON: Hit all targets. 

BOWMAN: As far as we know. 

MARTIN: We're giving the new body armor. We're giving them this IVAS capability. We're giving them capability that they absolutely deserve. There's no one that will be able to keep pace with our dismounts. All 105,000 or so absolutely deserve that capability, because if you've ever been dismounted before, you understand that it can be kind of lonely out there. You want to have a link to your fellow soldiers. You want to have a link to as much capability as possible. That's what IVAS and all of these soldier lethality efforts are delivering to our formations. 

MCPHERSON: Brad, let me share just a quick anecdote about IVAS and the touch point that the Vice Chief was talking about. IVAS is essentially a heads up display that the soldiers will wear in their helmets. Obviously, lots of input into that display and what they see on that display. Initially the engineers, and our vendor, Microsoft, they said, "We think we need to limit the number of items on the display because we don't want to confuse the soldier with too many items on that display." So, they limited those items. First touch point that took place, gave it to the soldiers, let them take it into the woods and use it. One of their feedback when they came back was, "We can see more things on the heads-up display, you can put more stuff on there." The 30 and 40-year-old something engineers said, we need to limit that because we don't want to confuse the 22-year-olds’. 20-year-old’s came back, who have done this their entire teenage lives, and said, "We could use more displays on that heads up." So that's what we've done. 

BOWMAN: You need to have a generational switch, so the age of the soldier, they can click it back and forth. 

MARTIN: Hey, Brad, let me, for the audience, I know you know this because you are well-read, but what do I mean by game changing? Think about the ability. Number one, it's a holographic display. You have goggles that you have on that you can see through, but yet there's a screen in front of you that augments that reality with certain capabilities. It'll chart a path to where you're going. It'll tell you where a reported adversary is, how far that adversary is from your location. It's able to see heat. It's also able to augment existing light. We've never had a device that had those two capabilities that, by the way, you can use simultaneously. It has the ability, with a link to the Bloodhound, to create a virtual rehearsal and training environment where you're standing in a room and the room doesn't have anybody in it, but in the room you can program to have an adversary in there, provide blank shooting devices to the soldiers on their weapons and train in that room. There's no bullets shot. There are blanks that are shot. But you're shooting at a target that's in a virtual world and you can play back that virtual world with this capability. This is game changing technology for our soldiers and they absolutely love what they see with this. They're beside themselves. We've got to deliver this and we're committed to doing that. 

BOWMAN: That's excellent. That's exactly the technologies that I know you'll agree our soldiers deserve. That's exactly the technologies they're going to need, because our potential great power adversaries are going to have some similar capabilities. It's so good that to hear that the Army's moving out with a sense of urgency on that.

h/t s2upid