The metaverse is a virtual world where users share experiences and interact in real-time within simulated scenarios. It is forecast to generate $627 billion in revenue by 2030, expanding at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 33% between 2020 and 2030. The metaverse has potential applications across all aspects of modern warfare, including training and education, logistics, battle management, and frontline service. As a result, militaries across the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region are adopting metaverse-based technology to support their operations, according to GlobalData, a data and analytics company.
GlobalData’s latest report, ‘The Metaverse in Defense’, reveals several metaverse-based initiatives run by militaries throughout the APAC region, including China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA), the Singaporean Air Force, and the Korean Air Force. Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine and rising tensions over Taiwan, militaries worldwide are being forced to modernise, seeking novel ways of organising and operating in conventional and non-conventional conflicts.
Benjamin Chin, Associate Analyst, Thematic Intelligence team at GlobalData, comments: “By far the largest use case is training, which the metaverse could transform. Metaverse-enabling technologies like augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) have been staples in pilot training programs for decades, given aircraft operation costs, the cost of the aircraft itself, and the inherent dangers of flying. As military organisations transition to commercial off-the-shelf technologies, the use of AR and VR will be expanded to roles other than pilots to accelerate training pipelines.”
China, Singapore, and South Korea are integrating the metaverse into their military strategies. In 2021, China’s Central Military Commission’s training mobilisation order, signed by President Xi Jinping, strongly emphasised that the construction of simulation, networking, and confrontational means should be strengthened. China is investing heavily in its military metaverse to ensure technical parity with potential peer adversaries, namely the US.
Chin continues: “The PLA currently employs Battle Labs, which uses Big Data, AI, and simulations to inform its military modernisation plans. To this end, the PLA will closely watch the current Ukraine conflict. The PLA is also exploring the idea of metaverse-based warfare: attacking an adversary’s metaverse to cripple their command, control, communications, computers intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (C4ISR) capabilities.”
Meanwhile, both Singapore and South Korea have been exploring the Advanced Tactical Augmented Reality System (ATARS) training solution offered by US-based company Red 6. This system can be used indoors and outdoors (overcoming a common AR issue) and provides pilots with in-air combat training by simulating assets in the real world via AR headsets. The training scenarios available include formation flying and air combat manoeuvring. This system is intended to improve efficiency, quality, lethality, cost, readiness, capability, and safety.
Chin concludes: “ATARS has been integrated by the US Air Force on the T-38C Talon for the service’s Air Education and Training Command since March 2021. In February 2022, Red 6 was awarded a supplementary contract for its increased and ongoing integration. Singapore and South Korea are interested in deploying Red 6’s M-346 trainer and T-50 trainer, respectively.”