How VR Training Keeps Fighter Pilots on Top of Their Game

by John Chaney

Virtual reality is all the craze today. It’s come a long way since its start in the 1920s.

Yes, it’s been nearly 100 years since the development of the world’s first flight simulator, designed as a training device for novice pilots. Today, VR is widely used by the military to keep pilots’ perishable combat skills sharp wherever they’re stationed.

Mass Virtual specializes in creating VR simulations for the defense and security industries. One such project created by Mass Virtual for the U.S. Navy is a “Beyond Visual Range” air-to-air combat simulation, on display for the first time at this week’s I/ITSEC modeling simulation and training conference in Orlando, Florida.

Realism is critical for effective training. Accurate materials and life-like training environments mean soldiers can learn faster, better and less expensively.

Screenshot of Mass Virtual's Virtual Attain platform
Screenshot of Mass Virtual’s Virtual Attain platform.

“When you can achieve suspension of disbelief in a virtual environment, a user has much longer retention of what they’ve learned,” says John Brooks, CEO and founder of Mass Virtual. “The U.S. Navy tasked us with developing the most highly immersive, life-like environment that could also integrate with their current software systems.”

Built on Mass Virtual’s Virtual Attain platform and running on NVIDIA Quadro GPUs, the simulation puts pilots inside a highly detailed F-18 fighter jet cockpit. While flying over the ocean, pilots determine from the sounds and information coming across the cockpit radar and displays whether there is an aggressor aircraft in range. They select the appropriate missile for their range, lock it up and take it out.

“The level of visual realism and immersion we can achieve with NVIDIA Quadro GPUs enables better training of our military so that both they and our national security are safer,” says Brooks. “Military VR environments undergo class after class, year after year of student throughput in training programs. NVIDIA Quadro GPUs offer the reliability and stability the military requires.”

VR immerses soldiers in a variety of highly realistic combat scenarios. One VR station can train a soldier for multiple scenarios such as driving a tank, reacting under gun fire or reloading a rocket launcher. Conducting this type of multipurpose training from a soldier’s home base or while on deployment makes VR a highly efficient and cost-effective training tool for military organizations.

At I/ITSEC, Mass Virtual will show how with four NVIDIA Quadro P6000 GPUs in a single server they can drive four simultaneous VR demos on Oculus and Vive head-mounted displays. The most powerful GPU on the market, the Quadro P6000 enables enough graphics power to allow military organizations to run single-server, multi-user networks with a minimal footprint. This means it’s easier to set up VR training in small, remote spaces such as a ship, so deployed soldiers can practice combat engagements while on deployments to keep their skills fresh.

Visit Mass Virtual in booth 501 at I/ITSEC or contact them at to schedule a time to see this and other military VR demos powered by the NVIDIA Quadro P6000.