US Senate to Slash Army’s Microsoft IVAS Funding

The long-awaited 'combat ready' mixed reality headset has hit a wall due to unresolved concerns

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Published: August 1, 2022

Demond Cureton

Microsoft’s Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS), a military version of the company’s HoloLens 2, will face substantial obstacles due to potential US Army budget cuts next year, Bloomberg reported last week.

The US Senate’s Appropriations Defense Subcommittee has slashed $350 million USD from the US Army’s $400 million request to procure the devices, the report found.

According to the panel discussion, the Subcommittee “remains concerned that IVAS continues to face software, hardware and user-acceptance challenges that the Army has not sufficiently addressed.”

It added it approved of the US Army’s decision to extend testing for a further ten months, adding the mixed reality (MR) headsets would lead to boosted efforts to “engage with non-traditional defense contractors […] capable of delivering innovative capabilities that meet warfighter requirements.”

The news comes as Democrats requested $809 billion to fund military operations for 2023, an increase from US President Joe Biden’s $773 billion budget request.

The IVAS programme has remained plagued with problems as Microsoft and the Pentagon work closely to resolve issues with heads up display (HUD) sighting, field of view (FoV), environmental and moisture controls, and other issues to create a “combat ready” device, following field tests in September last year.

The programme set back US Army budgets roughly $22 billion following a deal with the Redmond, Washington-based tech giant, which the former said in January had “not yet demonstrated the capability to serve as a fighting goggle.”

The latest budget cuts come as a massive setback to previous Army reassurance the device would deploy in 2022, reports in late last year revealed.

The combat goggles allow soldiers and military personnel detect targets, communicate with other staff, pair sighting from numerous weapons, and other functions.

The news also comes as the enterprise faces a massive hiring slowdown due to a negative economic outlook for 2022, leading to the removal of numerous job posting from the company’s website.

A Microsoft spokesperson told CNBC in mid-July,

“As Microsoft gets ready for the new fiscal year, it is making sure the right resources are aligned to the right opportunity. Microsoft will continue to grow headcount in the year ahead, and we will add additional focus to where those resources go”

Similar tech firms such as Meta Platforms, Alphabet, and Apple have also followed, due to record levels of economic inflation and despite increased investment in recent years.



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