US Navy signs Xbox 360 controllers up for submarine duty

US Navy signs Xbox 360 controllers up for submarine duty
Credit: Jeroen Bennink

Xbox 360 controllers are being called back to active duty. The US Navy will be replacing $38,000 periscope sticks with $30 gamepads aboard its top-of-the line Virginia class submarines.

The military has been using video game controllers for decades now. I was lucky enough to watch a demonstration of unmanned aerial vehicles in Kuwait, back in 2005, where soldiers were using game-pads to manually control the drones. They’ve seen even more military use since then.

After Navy experts spent over two years testing the xbox 360 controller, it is expected to go into use aboard Virginia class submarine USS Colorado in November, at which time it will be part of a new system that won’t use the old stick and periscope.

Microsoft cut its teeth on software systems – and recently decided it was an AI company – but it’s been doing cool things with hardware lately. Besides Hololens 2.0, the Redmond company also made the excellent Kinect – which has been used for everything from diagnosing dinosaurs to detecting ghosts.

The Xbox 360 controller was a great design, and even you prefer the PlayStation pad you’ll have to admit the Xbox offering is a bit sturdier. If I were still active duty I might carry one as a melee weapon (and click right stick to attack, amirite?).

I take this news to be a good sign the world is ready for a new console submarine simulation. Does anyone else remember “Silent Hunter?”

The U.S. Navy's most advanced submarines will soon be using Xbox controllers on The Virginian-Pilot

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