The Army is requesting $165 million for its Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) in fiscal year 2024, to include $76 million for further development of the new “1.2” version of the headset and $89 million to procure the upgraded system.

Production of the new IVAS 1.2 is expected to begin in late FY ‘24, according to an Army statement on Monday, before fielding to operational units “as early as” late FY ‘25.

U.S. Army soldiers assigned to 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, experiment with the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) on Oct. 14 as part of Project Convergence 22 (U.S. Army Photo)

“The Army remains fully committed to IVAS. Despite some revisions to the fielding timeline, the developmental process for IVAS will result in fielding several years ahead of standard acquisition programs,” the Army’s Project Manager Soldier Warrior (PM SWAR) IVAS said in Monday’s statement.

In March 2021, the Army awarded Microsoft [MSFT] a deal worth up to $21.9 billion over the next 10 years to move the IVAS augmented reality headset program from rapid prototyping into production (Defense Daily, March 31 2021).

Following an operational test with the IVAS 1.0 last June, Army officials detailed a plan to adjust the program’s timeline to address issues identified during the evaluation.

“The Army determined that IVAS demonstrated several transformational capabilities, but three areas prevented the systems from achieving soldier acceptance: reliability, low-light sensor performance and form factor. The Army and its industry partner, Microsoft, used the lessons learned from testing to address concerns and adjust its fielding plan,” PM SWAR IVAS said. 

In early January, the Army awarded Microsoft a $125 million deal to work on developing IVAS 1.2, which it said would include a new form factor and software improvements, with a goal to begin testing the upgraded system this fall (Defense Daily, Jan. 9). 

“The majority of the close combat force will receive IVAS 1.2; this version features an improved form factor in addition to reliability and low-light sensor upgrades, as well as a lower profile head-up display with distributed counterweight for improved user interface and comfort,” PM SWAR IVAS said.

Doug Bush, the Army’s top acquisition official, told reporters last Friday the service’s budget request focuses IVAS R&D and procurement on the 1.2 version of the system after having bought and tested the initial 1.0 and 1.1 capabilities in limited quantities.

“That limited production is already paid for. So any [new] procurement going out will be for [IVAS] 1.2 or better down the road,” Bush said in a briefing ahead of the budget rollout. “We’ll know a lot more this fall once we’ve got prototypes. I think at that point we’ll be in a position to talk to Congress about what the procurement potential is for [FY] ‘24 versus R&D. So I think we’re taking a measured approach to see what we have, then leave some decision time there on how much and when to go into production.”

The Army on Monday detailed its $185.5 billion FY ’24 budget request, with officials confirming the service did not require “wholesale” cuts or reductions to current programs in order to fully fund modernization efforts (Defense Daily, March 13).