The Army is on pace to bring its long-awaited augmented reality (AR) headsets into production as early as 2025, according to a top acquisition official.
The Army awarded Microsoft the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) headset contract in March 2021, which is worth up to $21.88 billion. The headsets are based on Microsoft’s HoloLens technology and use Microsoft’s Azure cloud services to operate them.
However, the headsets have faced several delays, as well as scrutiny from the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General (OIG) – who warned the Army could waste billions in taxpayer funds to field the AR headsets that soldiers may not even want or use.
Nevertheless, the Army awarded a task order to Microsoft in December 2022 to develop the 1.2 variant of IVAS.
In prepared written testimony from a budget hearing last week, Douglas R. Bush, the Army’s assistant secretary for acquisition, logistics, and technology, said the Army is “on pace” to field the IVAS 1.0 systems to selected training and doctrine units and the IVAS 1.1 systems to operational units in fiscal year (FY) 2024.
Bush said the Army intends to field IVAS 1.2 – the full-rate production goggle – to the force as early as the fourth quarter of FY2025. The written testimony was also signed by the head of Army Futures Command and the Army’s deputy chief of staff.
At an event in March, Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville said the service branch needs to “be persistent” with the IVAS headsets to transform how soldiers operate on the battlefield.
“They got to be consistent and stay with it,” McConville said. “And it’s clunky right now, but what that is going to do is transform the way our leaders and soldiers can operate in the battlefield. We have to be patient, but we have to get it done.”
“If you take a look at where we’re going with the 1.2 model, it’s going to happen,” he added. “And when we visualize what it’s going to end up being five to 10 years from now, people go, ‘Wow, how do we ever operate without this system?’”