back to article Real F-15 joins massively multiplayer virtual war

Aerospace behemoth Boeing has announced a possibly worrying new breakthrough in simulators, revealing yesterday that company boffins have linked real combat aircraft into virtual training wargames. According to Boeing, this is an "industry first". Apparently, a real F-15E Strike Eagle jet - one of America's most potent …


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  1. Chad H.

    Err, there is a Term for that


    I believe the words you're looking for is "Augmented Reality"

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Call me paranoid, but.......

    Is this in anyway linked to yesterdays story on the beeb that the USAF has grounded its entire F-15 fleet following a prang on a 'training mission'. Looks like those pesky s'kiddies have done for the USAF already!

  3. Anthony Chambers

    Expensive Way Around?

    So this guy is actually flying around in the air shooting down non-existent targets? Strikes me as the expensive way around surely. I thought simulators were supposed to be a cheap and safe way to train pilots? Putting them up in a plane crosses both of those off the list. If all that he's doing is shooting down targets he's never seen I fail to see the point!

  4. Barry

    Idea from a movie?

    Wasn't this (sort of) done in a movie?

    They had computer games hooked up to drone fighters, and the kids playing the games were (unknowingly) fighting against another force?

    How long until the army starts talking about 'pwning teh n-a-me'? Or whatever the kids say these days.

  5. Misha Gale

    Trained pilots vs gamers?

    So who are the other players in this MMOG? The article kind of made it sound like this is an ordinary game to which military hardware and personnel had been hooked up. If that's the case, it's hardly a test of a USAF pilots abilities to shoot down people trained on MS Flight Sim.

    Assuming this is pitting real pilots against each other, I'm still not sure I see how it's an improvement over a ground simulator. Is it just for the sake of realistic g-forces?

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Cheap way round

    Its all about derisking the interoperability. If you can link a synthetic enviroment into the live systems then you can start to test all your products in a much better way. First fully synthetic, then part, then fully live. It means cheaper, better systems as the problems can be ironed out much earlier in the programme.

  7. Anonymous Coward



    If you have six pilots that need training and you send em up in this augmented reality sim on six differing missions then thats six flights.

    Or without the augmented reality sim you could just send up six pilots which is erm also six flights.

    I think they better define how this is cost saving a little better than they have. I dont doubt that its a good idea but as usual the "official" explanation is'nt up to scratch.

    I assume the cost savings are when you only have one pilot who needs training so one flight rather than six. Of course the break even point would be an interesting fact, exactly how many missions do you need to "save on" before the cost of the augmented reality sim starts to actually save you money?

  8. Insane Reindeer
    Black Helicopters

    So I thought they were all grounded....


  9. Luiz Abdala


    I wonder if any flight simmer kid would kick a real F-15 pilot´s virtual butt. Perhaps USAF would now be promoting contest in flight sims, in order to get a new generation of pilots. But wait, there is some old movie based on that, where a vintage arcade is used to search for pilots to join the army of an alien planet.


    Of course the new fighters would include keyboards and mice, along with the regular joysticks-and-throttle.


    Or some´ol terrorist hack would include the White House as a targeting site, in a real, live weapons mission.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    This was definitely a Stargate SG1 plot.

  11. Tim Parker

    Re : Cheap way round

    "Its all about derisking the interoperability"

    I beg your pardon ?..

    I thought phrases like that were banned on El Reg ?

    Or appeared on T-shirts...

  12. Anonymous Coward

    re: Augmented Reality

    Sounds like a euphemism for taking an acid trip. In my younger years, I "augmented my reality" a few times. And for the casual observer, it probably looks much the same... A room full of tripping fools reacting to things that weren't there---or an F-15 looping and diving and rolling, shooting at things that are imaginary. Probably much less laughter though. And no Ren and Stimpy reruns to be had.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The film you was thinking about is called The Last Starfighter

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    As long as they don't forget to remove the simulator from the aircraft when it goes on patrol.

    Just like an episode from Star Trek:DS9 when a Klingon Bird of Prey was conducting simulated battles. Worf's son forgot to remove the simulation and they thought they were under attack from a Jem'hadar fighter.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Chris & Barry

    Try "The Last Starfighter" -- 1984, and more esoterically, "Megazone 23:Vol 3"

  16. Shakje

    @Chris Morley

    Sounds like a total ripoff of War Games.


  17. Andrew Moore

    @ Chris Morley

    It was a SeaQuest DSV episode before that (okay- it was battle droids rather than fighter planes but essentially the same thing).

  18. John

    The Last Starfighter

    The arcade machine in The Last Starfighter was just a game but it was also a recruitment tool for that old guy with the really cool car/spaceship.

    WarGames seems the closest match but not quite as exciting as a VR setup.

  19. TeeCee Gold badge
    Black Helicopters


    Is having a *real* F15 as your client permitted by Punkbuster?

  20. Jim Ned

    Only real advantage...

    Today's flight simulators are so good and so realistic that the only real advantage of having this one flight crew up in an actual plane (vs another linked-in simulator) is the G-forces...oh yeah, and and also the $30,000 per hour flight cost of the plane.

  21. Jim
    Thumb Up

    @Tim Parker

    >"Its all about derisking the interoperability"

    >I beg your pardon ?..

    >I thought phrases like that were banned on El Reg ?

    >Or appeared on T-shirts...

    Top idea. Make a great chrimbo gift for a couple of people I know. When are they going on sale?

  22. Anonymous Coward

    Very long respawn time.

    I hope he doesn't try a bail loop, or scooping a ground pounder with his wing.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    @Luiz Abdala

    Your question answered soon.......

  24. Anonymous Coward

    Great idea

    Now they get to practise shooting there own side, wothout putting themselves at risk

  25. Damian Gabriel Moran

    all those days playing F15 Strike Eagle on my old amstrad 464

    were for some good afterall, see mum I told you so!

  26. Ian

    Been done before...

    Linden labs have successfully simulated boredom by linking thousands of real losers to a simulator where nothing happens.

  27. Anonymous Coward

    @Tim Parker

    >"Its all about derisking the interoperability"

    >I beg your pardon ?..

    >I thought phrases like that were banned on El Reg ?

    >Or appeared on T-shirts...

    fair point, I _am_ at work while I'm writing, I probably wrote some abusive flame into a software design document :)

  28. Graham Bartlett

    Why mix simulator and real?

    Why? Well, because you need targets to aim at. Someone above said: "If you have six pilots that need training and you send em up in this augmented reality sim on six differing missions then thats six flights." Sure - except that five of them are just stooging around being targets, which doesn't help them much with their training.

    And not just targets - you also need opponents. Your six planes could then be two groups of three, both using a full variety of missiles. The missiles could be simulated fairly well, allowing both sides to fight a full engagement using over-the-horizon, wired-guided, heatseekers and cannon without having to settle for the simplistic "I got lock, you're dead" approach. Sure, not being able to see the missiles (because they don't really exist) would be a slight drawback, but if you can see them then you've probably got about 1 second until you die anyway. Or you could have all six planes simulating attacking a ground target equipped with SAMs.

  29. Rob


    And what happens when the inevitable Punkbuster message arrives telling you that you've been kicked from the server for cheating, even though you haven't? Ejector Seat?

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    How would Boeing know if this is an industry first? Industry first press release maybe but they don't know what companies are up to behind closed doors!

  31. Keith Williams


    As long as you have admin rights so Punkbuster can check the CVars.

  32. amanfromMars Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Dive in....the Water is fine

    "Boeing reckons this kind of VR-mixed-with-reality ..."

    Why F*** IT up with reality in the Mix? What is wrong with Good Imagination Shared for Third Party, Positive Reinforcement?

  33. Charles Calthrop

    when my grandad was over dresden

    On the one hand, our over-keen american so called "cousins" (I've been on a diversity course)

    Papa two roach, we've got a hot one!

    Yee hah, gonna shoot me some limeys.


    My grandad...granny getting pounded by some johnnny come lately GI type for a silk stocking...dried up eggs... Dresden.. Tommy has his back to the wall. England stands alone. Except for the welsh (who put burning arrows pointing to liverpool on their hills. Can't fucking blame them. I've been there)

    Who is the hero here?

    Once again; johnny foreigner; kiss my arse.

  34. Dave Bell

    Virtual Aggressor Squadrons?

    It's maybe not going to be as good as a real plane as an opponent--what's the modern helmet-mounted display capable of?--but one of the big problems in training is that an opponent in the same sort of plane is going to be misleading. Which is why the USA used the F-5 for their Aggressor Squadrons. Put the "enemy" in a simulator, and they could be flying anything. Even a plane that doesn't exist.

    OK, so I was reading a short story by Martin Caidin which had some weird dogfights, and not every pilot is going to be able to switch from a MiG-19 to the Mig-29, and get the most out of the plane, even with the same simulator interface. But if your opponent has different advantages every day I reckon you'll learn better.

    (I remember a multi-player flight-sim where everyone was thinking of turning battles, and my only two kills came from fighting in the vertical. And most times I missed.)

  35. Robbin Nichol


    Someone once said that simulators were like masturbation, the more you do it the more you become convinced that its better than the real thing.

  36. Anonymous Coward


    Someone once said that simulators were like masturbation, the more you do it the more you become convinced that its better than the real thing.

  37. yeah, right.

    It's already a book.

    Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card.

    Next step is to put the pilot in the simulator and the wingman in the plane itself to handle things the automated stuff can't do. Then you train 12 year olds with incredibly fast reflexes into thinking they're just playing a game when in fact they're killing real people and bombing real cities.

    Ender's Game, when science fiction is closer to reality than I'm really comfortable with.

  38. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    There's the Conquerers too

    Timothy Zahn (one of my favorite SF writers) penned the Conquerors trilogy in which future pilots are jacked Matrix-style into an "augmented" reality where their own persona becomes part of a larger consciousness. Okay, my words, but that's the idea.

    The nickname "Copperhead" was due to the physical jack at the base of the brain that interfaced the pilot and the enhanced reality machine.

    A good read. Looks like we're starting down that path at last.

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