Army Awards Applied Research Associates Synthetic Training Environment (STE) Contract

STE to modernize and standardize Soldier virtual training

ARA is adapting its Government-owned, license-free ASCEND technology as a One World Terrain (OWT) solution

Applied Research Associates, Inc. (ARA) has been awarded a Synthetic Training Environment (STE) contract with the U.S. Army, in support of the Secretary of Defense’s Soldier Lethality Initiative. STE is the Army’s vision for the future of Soldier simulation training, making it more cohesive, efficient, and cost-effective. STE will provide an all-in-one training solution, addressing the domains of space, air, ground, underground, sea, and cyber. The effort will merge current diverse virtual environments into a single, non-proprietary environment that adapts to rapidly changing technologies. ARA is one of only seven companies selected to research and prototype solutions for the Reconfigurable Virtual Collective Trainers and One World Terrain (OWT), the first components of STE to be funded.

OWT will be STE’s synthetic-environment capability, generating 3D environments based on real-world terrain data. Existing synthetic environment technologies are often proprietary and not compatible, which limits training innovation and advancement. OWT, rather, will be based on a single, open format. Under this initial OWT award, ARA is adapting its Government-owned, license-free ASCEND technology as an OWT solution; ASCEND provides a GIS data-management system and a flexible data processing and storage pipeline, turning raw, unprocessed data into three-dimensional content. OWT will feed into a second component of STE, the Terrain Simulation Software (TSS). The TSS will be STE’s software engine leveraging emerging gaming and next-gen simulation capabilities. ARA’s candidate for TSS is its Globe software, a Government-owned, license-free application that renders imagery, height map, features, and entities onto a virtual globe built on the powerful Unreal game engine. TSS will be provided terrain and other environment features from OWT and generate a realistic, three-dimensional virtual world, supporting training simulators such as the Soldier/Squad Virtual Trainer and providing Soldiers with a game-changing training capability.

“STE is an exciting, fast-moving architecture in the Army synthetic environment space,” said ARA Vice President Randy Brown. “ARA is heavily involved in supporting the STE program through its own solutions, along with supporting our industry partners by contributing technologies to theirs. We are pushing these technologies forward to advance state-of-the-art capabilities based on open-source and GOTS solutions for the Army.”

For 15 years the Virtual Heroes Division of ARA has been working to advance the state of the art in training realism for the warfighter. More information on Virtual Heroes can be found at and on social media:

About Virtual Heroes

The Virtual Heroes Division of ARA creates 3D interactive learning solutions and synthetic virtual environments for educational, medical, corporate, and government organizations. Our staff includes industry experts with over 20 years of synthetic environment experience across the Live, Virtual, and Constructive domains. Virtual Heroes is located in Raleigh, North Carolina and Orlando, Florida.

For more information, please visit: and

Randy Brown
ARA Vice President, Virtual Heroes Division Manager

About ARA

Applied Research Associates, Inc. (ARA) was founded in 1979, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to offer science and engineering research to solve problems of national importance. ARA delivers leading-edge products and innovative solutions for national defense, energy, homeland security, aerospace, healthcare, transportation, and manufacturing. With over 1,700 employee-owners at locations in the U.S. and Canada, ARA offers a broad range of technical expertise in defense technologies, civil engineering, computer software and simulation, systems analysis, biomedical engineering, environmental technologies, and blast testing and measurement.