Live, Virtual, and Constructive (LVC) Simulation is a broadly used taxonomy for classifying Models and Simulation (M&S). However, categorizing a simulation as a live, virtual, or constructive environment is problematic since there is no clear division between these categories. The degree of human participation in a simulation is infinitely variable, as is the degree of equipment realism. The categorization of simulations also lacks a category for simulated people working real equipment. The LVC categories are defined as follows:

Live – M&S involving real people operating real systems, e.g. a pilot flying a jet.

Virtual – M&S involving real people operating simulated systems. Virtual simulations inject a Human-in-the-Loop into a central role by exercising motor control skills (e.g., flying a simulated jet), decision making skills (e.g., committing fire control resources to action), or communication skills (e.g., as members of a C4I team).

Constructive – M&S involving simulated people operating simulated systems. Real people stimulate (provide inputs) to such simulations, but are not involved in determining the outcomes.

Marine Abrams firing main gunThe military defines any training that is not real combat to be simulation. This has lead to a division of simulations into three broad categories: Live, Virtual, and Constructive. The movie “Top Gun” focused on live simulation, soldiers operate their real equipment in mock engagements. Ground forces participate in similar maneuvers, armored and infantry forces don laser gear and engage a threat force in non-lethal combat. These exercises allow combat troops to experience the rigors of living and working in the field and force them to fight against a well trained reactive opponent.

Armed services usually use live fire exercises as an opportunity to use real ammunition in a realistically created combat situation. The area in which these tests are conducted will be devoid of people to avoid casualties, and will likely be owned by the government which authorized the test in the first place. Most live fire tests are conducted either against derelict equipment, such as tanks and ships, or against remotely controlled drones.

The purpose of this type of exercise is twofold: First, it offers recruits the chance to get accustomed to their weapons so that they will know how to properly operate them. Secondly, this provides soldiers with an opportunity to fire live ammunition without having to worry about an actual enemy returning fire. This allows soldiers to get reacquainted with the feel and time of actually using and expending ammunition rather than simply simulating the experience. Live fire exercises of this type can be observed either by remotely controlled cameras or by long range telescopic devices, such as binoculars.