VBS1 (Virtual Battlefield Systems 1) is a military simulator which relies heavily on modern game technology and is therefore generally referred to as a serious game. The platform is derived from the first-person entertainment game Operation Flashpoint and is developed by Bohemia Interactive Australia. The system enables the practice of small unit military tactics in an interactive multiplayer 3D environment. The platform provides real-time scenario management facilities, customized vehicles and equipment, user-definable mission scenarios, and variable environmental conditions. This combination of military simulator functionality and modern gaming technology proved to be a success and resulted in a broad military customer base. VBS2 is the successor of this platform.
The Virtual Battlespace Systems 1 concept was initially conceived in 2001 as the result of a business decision made between Bohemia Interactive Studio (BIS) and creator David Lagettie. The BIS computer game Operation Flashpoint (OFP) aimed for a highly realistic military gameplay. In order to achieve this the game featured large scale terrain areas combined with a high level of detail, an integrated topographic map, a fully functional command and control system for small teams, and considerable flexibility in the game engine. These functionalities gave the game obvious military potential, and as a result Bohemia Interactive Australia (BIA) was formed and given the task of converting the product explicitly for military purposes.
The first military customer for VBS1 was the United States Marine Corps (USMC), who were provided VBS1, a USMC addon pack and MOUT training facilities modelled to a high level of detail in late 2001. The majority of development work was carried out by BIA, with distribution and limited development conducted by Coalescent Technologies.
In 2002, the product was further developed, which resulted in the first versions of the VBS1 After Action Review (AAR) and Observer being developed. The Real Virtuality engine was upgraded to version 1.94 in order to output data as required by the AAR system.
The Australian Defence Force (ADF) began conducting trials with VBS1 in 2003, and a large amount of work was conducted by the Virtual Environments and Simulation Lab (VESL), part of the University of New South Wales at the Australian Defence Force Academy. VESL conducted (for the ADF) the Virtual Infantry Section Experiment (VISE), which was the first analytical use of the product by a military organisation.
The AAR 2 and Observer 2 were developed in 2003 in order to record the large quantities of data generated during VISE (previous versions were unable to handle more than a few squads in the one scenario), and the engine was updated to version 1.99. This gave VBS1 an inherent and powerful data recording and mission playback capability.
VBS1 was refined and improved and underwent limited public release on May 21, 2004 (previously the product was only released to military (or similar) organisations). The release occurred primarily to increase awareness of the product and foster a user community. Exclusive distribution rights for VBS1 to North America was given to Coalescent Technologies, with BIA and BIS distributing to the rest of the world via the online shop.
The ADF conducted trials of VBS1 in November 2004 as part of the VICE. The trials resulted in VBS1 being recommended as a suitable training tool for a range of military purposes: from Infantry Minor Tactics through to combined arms operations. The results of the trial are summarized in the VESL paper "Proficient Soldier to Skilled Gamer: Training for COTS Success".
The ADF provided a large amount of feedback regarding the product and this resulted in engine updates and improvements to the AAR and Observer. The VBS1 2.07 patch was released in mid-2005 and also AAR 3 and Observer 3. In accordance with ADF requests, the VBS1 Instructor Interface and also numerous convoy training enhancements were implemented. The ADF used these new features as part of pre-deployment training for the Al Muthanna Task Group 2 (AMTG2), who were to deploy to Iraq in late 2005. BIA developed the town of As Samawah (as part of Terrain Pack 3) in VBS1 to a high level of detail from photos and maps, and also a 50 km² Al Muthanna terrain area.
In 2005 computer game Operation Flashpoint was used by the US based company BBN Technologies to create DARWARS Ambush! Convoy Simulator a commercial military training product developed as part of the DARPA DARWARS program.
In April 2006, a VBS1 enterprise license has been negotiated with the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF), which includes provision of VBS1 and an update to VBS2 for both the ADF and the NZDF.
In April 2006 was BIA chosen by Australian Defence Force (ADF) to develop a number of Loadmaster Virtual Reality Simulators (LVRS) utilizing VBS1 simulator engine.
In August 2006 the USMC has purchased an enterprise license of Virtual Battlespace (VBS) covering an unlimited number of VBS1 and VBS2 licenses. Two version of VBS1 delivered: 'VBS1 Developer' provides a fully functional product for use in simulation centers and 'VBS1 Lite' for wider distribution.
In November 2006 the United States Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School (USAJFKSWCS) has purchased a site license of Virtual Battlespace (VBS). The license provides a large number of VBS1 and VBS2 licenses to USAJFKSWCS.
VBS1 offers realistic battlefield simulations and the ability to operate land, sea and air vehicles. Instructors may create new scenarios and then run the simulation from multiple viewpoints. The squad management system enables users to issue orders to squad members as well as coordinate both lethal and non-lethal tasks. VBS1 allows free play within scenario-based training missions. It also incorporates simulation of wind, rain, fog, clouds, time of day, sunrise and sunset and tides.
VBS1 is based on a commercial game created by Bohemia Interactive Studio. It was designed for federal, state and local government agencies and can be specifically tailored to meet the individual needs of military, law enforcement, homeland defense, and first responder training environments. VBS1 can be deployed over a LAN or through the Internet on both mobile and desktop computers.
VBS1 may be used to teach doctrine, tactics, techniques, and procedures during squad and platoon offensive, defensive, and patrolling operations. It may also be used to teach and rehearse security emergency response procedures in lethal and non-lethal environments. VBS1 delivers a synthetic environment for the practical exercise of the leadership and organizational behavior skills required to successfully execute small unit missions.
VBS1 external client API has been used to create HLA and DIS gateways.
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* - Sources needed to confirm
The VBS1 system is also being evaluated for fielding in the United Kingdom , Israel, Singapore, the Czech Republic and expanded fielding within the U.S. Marine Corps & U.S. Navy. Also State of South Carolina has now joined the list of State, Federal, and Local governments ordering the VBS1 synthetic training system.
Thanks to LVC (Live-Virtual-Constructive) Game by Calytrix, VBS1 and VBS2 will also be integrated into the USMC DVTE network, seamlessly interoperating with simulations such as JSAF. The DVTE will soon leverage a wide range of VBS2 enhancements including command and control functionality, modifiable agent-based AI and real-time mission editing.
VBS1 and VBS2 may also be integrated with C2PC to provide a high-fidelity, networked environment linking the live and virtual domains (live marines in the field, tracked by GPS, interoperating with virtual entities controlled from within a USMC simulation centre).
VBS1 was developed by *Bohemia Interactive Australia (division of *Bohemia Interactive Studio) with limited amount of development managed by *Coalescent Technologies.
VBS1 is in distribution worldwide by *Bohemia Interactive Studio and *Bohemia Interactive Australia division.
Prior to March 2006 was VBS1 distribution in North America handled by *Coalescent Technologies.