5G Wireless Technologies Seen as ‘Critical’ Enabler for Pentagon’s Simulation, Virtual Reality Needs

Defence Industry

Washington: The US military is very keen on fifth generation of wireless technologies, more commonly known as 5G, as it is critical to unleashing digital simulation and virtual reality capabilities, experts feel.

The 5G ecosystem promises exponentially faster speeds as well as greater accommodations for more and more-advanced devices. The US Department of Defence considers development and adoption of the generation foundational to its longer-term connectivity and modernization goals. Rollout and uptake, though, has so far been piecemeal.

“There’s some really exciting applications, of course for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and command and control, but even for really intricate things like untethered virtual and augmented reality, things for live simulation and training,” Whitney McNamara, a non-resident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, said at an event hosted by the Washington-based think tank.

“I think 5G is one of those really critical enablers,” she added.

The Pentagon is pouring money into video game-like simulation and virtual reality for training, planning, logistics and maintenance purposes. The applications, though, come with serious bandwidth and latency requirements; laggy or intermittent feeds can break immersion or even get in the way of work.

“5G, when it reaches its potential, will be able to support immersive environments, where you’re in a 3D, virtual world with multiple other actors also seeing the same thing and interacting in a way that requires a lot more information to be moved back and forth between that compute environment and the user device,” said Dan Rice, Lockheed Martin’s Vice President of 5G MIL programme adding that  “things like that, I think, you’re going to see unlocked with 5G.”

The Pentagon in October 2020 announced it was investing $600 million into 5G experimentation at five bases across the country. Among them were Naval Base San Diego in California and Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington. At th