Specular Theory Wins Multiple U.S. Air Force Contracts to Expand EARL and MAT Extended Reality Trainers Across Platforms

LOS ANGELES, July 9, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — Specular Theory, a trailblazer in immersive training technology, is excited to announce that it has secured substantial funding through multiple Major Commands (MAJCOMs) within the U.S. Air Force, including Air Education and Training Command (AETC), Air Mobility Command (AMC), and Air Force Global Strike Command’s (AFGSC) innovation arm STRIKEWERX.

Since initiating their partnership with the U.S. Air Force, Specular Theory has become one of the most successful SBIR stories, beginning with an initial SBIR Direct-to-Phase II contract that resulted in more than 10 consecutive SBIR Phase III sole-source contracts and one AFWERX TACFI contract. In just six years of working with the USAF, Specular Theory has rapidly scaled its XR training products from one to over 10 USAF Major Weapon Systems, including Mobility, Bomber, and Air Force Special Operations Forces.

The company’s two flagship immersive training products, “EARL” and “MAT,” which include a mobile virtual reality procedural trainer and a virtual reality part-task trainer for air refueling, have proven highly effective for USAF training. These products not only reduce time and costs but also produce higher quality graduates much faster. What makes these products unique is their highly realistic and accurate XR training combined with the level of innovation and ingenuity the company is known for. The EARL system, for example, uses a Computational Fluid Dynamic (CFD) plug-in, Force Feedback controls, AI Instruction, Adaptive Learning, and Multiplayer functionality for multi-crew and multi-aircraft training on one system.

Specular Theory developed EARL in 2021 when it was awarded a Phase III sole-source contract by the USAF AFLCMC/WNS Sim Innovation Cell to expand their virtual trainer capabilities to address B-52 air refueling challenges. Within 12 months, Specular Theory successfully delivered the EARL virtual reality part-task trainer for air-to-air refueling to the B-52 FTU at Barksdale. That same year, EARL won the USAF Sim Innovation Match Game in the Virtual Part-Task Trainer Category at the 2021 Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference (I/ITSEC). Since its initial delivery, EARL has already been proven to train more pilots faster and significantly reduce the number of sorties required for pilots to achieve proficiency, averaging 2 sorties fewer than the historical average.

“Specular Theory has consistently gone over and above to deliver an amazing training tool. Our pilots are able to easily access a quality training tool giving them a chance to receive extra instruction and perform much needed repetition of a difficult training task,” says Lt Col Brandon ‘Steppen’ Wolf at the 93rd Bomb Squadron at Barksdale AFB. “Additionally, EARL has various tools which afford a different approach to training rather than traditional training methods. Students can review their performance and analytical data, allowing a deeper understanding of what is going on and how mistakes were made. The impact of this training tool will pay dividends for years to come within the B-52 community.”

“At Specular Theory, it has been an honor to transform buzzwords into tangible results. By leveraging our cutting-edge Virtual Reality and AI, we deliver realistic, immersive, and cost-effective solutions that keep Airmen battle-ready,” said Morris May, CEO of Specular Theory.

Last June, Specular Theory was awarded an AFWERX TACFI contract to expand its EARL trainer for KC-46 receiver AAR training, which the company delivered in less than 10 months. Initial feedback and testing have already shown it to be beneficial in accelerating air refueling proficiency for KC-46 pilots.

“The technology developed by Specular Theory is a complementary medium of our training programs for the Formal Training Units housed at Altus Air Force Base and enables us to achieve student production requirements,” said U.S. Air Force Col. John Masterson, 97th Air Mobility Wing Operations Group commander.

Specular Theory has since received significant funding from AETC and AMC to continue expanding EARL’s capabilities by adding more receiver aircraft across the Mobility Air Forces portfolio, including the C-17. Additionally, funds will be used to expand the Boom Air Refueling Trainer (BART) within EARL for KC-46 and KC-135 boom operator training. This will allow real boom operators to practice and refuel against real receiver pilots flying in EARL, as well as refuel against various automated AI receiver aircraft, including fighters and bombers.

In addition to EARL, Specular Theory’s mobile virtual reality aircraft trainer (MAT) has been crucial for the USAF in optimizing training timelines, reducing re-fly rates, enhancing efficiency in both simulators and actual aircraft, and decreasing the required instructor time with students.

Ryan Pulliam, Co-Founder of Specular Theory, commented, “We are making flight training more portable, personal, precise, and powerful than ever before, enabling the USAF to train more pilots better and faster than ever before.”

In addition to their proven and rapid scaling EARL and MAT trainers, Specular Theory was also selected as the flight control supplier for Air Mobility Command’s AVTRAT program.

Since its founding in 2013, Specular Theory has delivered the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed work in the immersive technology industry, winning more awards than any other company in the XR space. Rooted in Hollywood visual effects, AAA gaming, and Big Tech, Specular Theory has become a major player in commercial and defense tech, bringing new capabilities and innovative tech to the Air Force that extend and enhance the availability of training for C-17, KC-46, C-130J, KC-135, C-146, AC-130J, B-52, T-1, T-1AMP, and T-6 aircrews.

Catherine Roscart


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SOURCE Specular Theory