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Army awards Microsoft $22 billion contract for futuristic goggles

IVAS lets soldiers see 3D maps, through smoke and peek around corners.

The Army has given Microsoft a contract that could be worth nearly $22 billion for its futuristic goggles that offer soldiers a new method to see the battlefield.

According to Microsoft's HoloLens 2, the augmented reality goggles were ruggedized for the wear and tear of battle and have experienced prototype testing over the past two decades.

On Wednesday, the Army announced that it had awarded a 10-year production contract to Microsoft for its IVAS system potentially worth $21.88 billion. The contract has a third base interval followed by another five-year alternative, stated Courtney Bacon, an Army spokesperson.

Microsoft reported that the contract could provide over 120,000 goggles into the Close Combat Force.

"We value the partnership with the U.S. Army, and are grateful for their continued trust in transitioning IVAS from rapid prototyping to quick fielding," wrote Microsoft's Alex Kipman in a blog post. Kipman designed Holo Lens and has directed the study and development of the goggle's conversion into IVAS for its Army.

Last autumn, Kipman told ABC News that the goggle system provides soldiers with a substantial update in situational awareness.

The system gives soldiers more information than they have ever had on the battle.

"The IVAS aggregates multiple technologies into an arrangement which allows the Soldier to Fight, Rehearse, and Train working with one platform," said an Army announcement declaring the manufacturing contract.

Attached to combat helmets, the transparent goggles make it possible for soldiers to understand precisely where they are thanks to a heads-up display, or HUD, which provides them with an overhead compass along with overlays maps of their location.

Holograms and 3D terrain maps have been projected on the goggles to see what lies ahead and allows soldiers know precisely where their squad mates are around the battle.

The goggles also incorporate significant improvements in night vision and thermal vision technologies that provide soldiers a complete 180-degree area of view.

A attachment mounted on a rifle barrel jobs on the HUD whatever can be seen through the rifle range, regardless of what direction a soldier is searching. That capability gives troops a border in dangerous urban warfare by letting them peer around corners.

The high tech goggles will be made accessible to all the Army's combat infantry troops, bringing them resources that may have been only available to elite units.

Eric Oehlerich, a retired Navy SEAL and ABC News contributor, finds that as a step toward improving the combat effectiveness of American troops on the battle.

"The further situational awareness you've got about your forces, and also the enemy position, the easier it is to dominate the battle," he added. "Investments in gear like the IVAS goggles will greatly increase the consciousness each service member will possess during the'fog of war,' which makes them more lethal when called upon."

Mick Mulroy, a retired Marine and ABC News contributor, consented with Oehlerich, but also worried that basic military skills need to be maintained.

"It's also important that we don't become over reliant on technologies," said Mulroy. "We need to train it and without it, as our adversaries will no doubt attempt to counter our technological advancements."

The deal is the second major contract won by the technology giant in the last several years. Last year, the Pentagon selected Microsoft over Amazon to take over its $10 billion JEDI chip project.

Though the IVAS contract is twice as big as the JEDI job, it might end up being less when the Army decides not to pursue its own five-year option.

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