From your couch to the battlefield — video game controllers will soon help operate Navy’s most technologically advanced submarines, according to the Virginian-Pilot.

The Navy plans to replace clunky and expensive periscopes controls on its flagship Virginia-class subs with Xbox 360 controllers — both because they’re cheaper and because most soldiers grew up playing console video games.

“The Navy got together and they asked a bunch of J.O.s and junior guys, ‘What can we do to make your life better?’” said Lt. j.g. Kyle Leonard of the USS John Warner told the paper. “And one of the things that came out is the controls for the scope. It’s kind of clunky in your hand — it’s real heavy.”

The current controls, which operate more like a helicopter’s joystick, cost a whopping $38,000 — about 1,000 times the cost of an Xbox handheld.

“That joystick is by no means cheap, and it is only designed to fit on a Virginia-class submarine,” the John Warner’s senior chief Mark Eichenlaub told the Virginian-Pilot. “I can go to any video game store and procure an Xbox controller anywhere in the world, so it makes a very easy replacement.”

The Navy plans to phase in the new devices over time, and one sub expected to be commissioned by November will come with then stock, the paper reported.

It’s the latest attempt by the U.S. military to incorporate technologies that soldiers are already comfortable with, according to Eichenlaub.

“They want to bring in sailors with what they have at home on their personal laptop, their personal desktop, what they grew up with in a classroom,” he said.


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