Improbable Defence

How SimCentric and Bohemia Interactive Simulations used Improbable's platform to deliver an adaptive, realistic Will to Fight model for simulated massed firing training

The Army Warfighting Experiment (AWE) is an annual event that sees industry, academia and allies come together to help ensure the UK’s resilience in the face of an increasingly complex, fluid and fast moving threat landscape. It’s an opportunity for the Army to explore how best to prepare personnel at every level for future operations.

Working in partnership with both the Army and our partners Discovery Machine, Inc., Bohemia Interactive Simulations, SimCentric, Microsoft, Epic Games and Improbable’s games technology division, a small team from Improbable Defence addressed a series of predefined challenges. In this three-part series, we take a look at each challenge in turn.


Tim Stringer, Partner Success Manager


“Arguably, Will to Fight is the single most important factor in war.
Will to Fight is the disposition and decision to fight, and to keep fighting, and to win.”

– Ben Connable

War is a human endeavour. It’s a contest of independent wills, always in opposition. One side succeeds when the other’s will is bent or broken by an adversary.

It’s crucial that training exists to test and investigate this fundamental principle, so decision makers can strategise, plan and execute accordingly. But training the cognitive dimension is hard. A massed fire exercise may be ‘effective’ in the sense that each round hits its target, for instance, but little more can be said beyond this. Range targets can’t tell you if their morale is low, if their leadership is weak, or if they’re likely to fight-or-flee in the face of an artillery bombardment.

The ability to explore the likely behavioural and psychological effects of certain actions on abstract emotions, like fear-for-life and Will to Fight, is critical to getting to the heart of cognitive training, both offensively and defensively.

The British Army clearly valued this concept when setting experiment #2 as part of AWE21: ‘Demonstrate how simulating and modelling variable artillery fires alongside the complexities of the cognitive dimensions could alter battlefield outcomes and provide insight to commanders.’

Experiments like these are key to exploring how future capabilities might be developed and deployed quickly to keep personnel safe and improve mission outcomes. Such a challenge depends on getting the latest, most reliable and most relevant synthetic content and ensuring it interoperates. 

For this, we needed to call on the expertise of our partner network. Bohemia Interactive Simulations (BISim) and SimCentric used Improbable’s platform to quickly and economically combine VBS4 and SAF-FIRES™ with concepts from a realistic Will to Fight model. This solution was then deployed on Microsoft’s Azure Stack for optimal speed, agility and scalability. 

“It was fantastic to see how easily Improbable is able to integrate the power of VBS4 into its platform with complex cognitive models and other runtimes, to pioneer novel and more realistic training.”

– Bohemia Interactive Simulations

In practice, enemy force characteristics could be tailored in VBS4 based on a number of parameters, including leadership, combat experience, and weather conditions. A clear user interface allowed users to vary these parameters and analyse metrics at the click of a button. Commanders and troops were able to seamlessly see the results of their decisions via fast, visual metrics, adapt their approaches and explore alternative outcomes. 

“Our work with Bohemia Interactive Simulations and Improbable Defence as part of AWE21 served to demonstrate the power of partner collaboration in support of national resilience and security. Through a highly customised integration with Improbable’s platform, we could interoperate our best-in-class massed fires training simulation SAF-FIRES™ with BISim’s flagship product VBS4 to augment the standard training experience. Combined with realistic Will to Fight model components, this elevated massed fires training to truly new heights where the behavioural and psychological impact of artillery bombardment can be better extrapolated.”
– SimCentric

Having integrated BiSim’s VBS4, SimCentric’s SAF-FIRES™ and a Will to Fight model with Improbable’s synthetic environment development platform, a multi-domain, medium intensity battlespace was simulated.


Opposing force was built, and attributes configured to adjust their Will to Fight.

Mass fires were selected in SAF-FIRES™, and view fire mission was conducted in VBS4.


OPFOR reactions were observed from an overwatching Unmanned Aerial System (UAS), specifically their flight-or-flee response in relation to selected characteristics.


Resultant graphs were shown in a custom Improbable UI of the key SAF-FIRES™ events and effect on the Will to Fight of the OPFOR. 

Grasping the cumulative effect on the Will to Fight of adversarial force is critical in governing decision-making in the contemporary battlespace. What our partners accomplished as part of AWE 21 experiment #2 made strides toward achieving this understanding through blended models, behaviours and richly tailored, immersive experiences. Adding this richness and adaptability to the simulation allows users to experience much more realistic effects from their actions.

AWE is all about exploring the art of the possible to anticipate and prepare for complex future warfare. Successes like experiment #2 vindicate a faster response to a wider industry need: getting the latest technological innovations into the hands of the British Army to support digital transformation and help them plan and train more effectively, whilst ensuring that leading organisations like SimCentric and BISim have access to the tools and tech they need to respond to this need – quickly, flexibly, and economically.

For an in-depth demonstration of the technology behind AWE experiment #1 and to discuss how Improbable Defence’s partner network can open up new opportunities for industry, get in touch with