Xbox 360 controllers are being used to control the periscopes on Virginia-class nuclear submarines. Originally, the “photonic mast” periscopes were controlled with a $38,000 specially-designed joystick, but based on cost-cutting directives and complaints from testers that the controls were not intuitive and clunky, Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Navy conscripted the ubiquitous console game controller to meet their needs. It’s a choice that’s proven popular with the personnel tasked with using the systems, and with the procurement officers on the project.
“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 Xbox 360 controller will be bundled as part of the Virginia-class submarine packages starting in November, just in time for the holidays! Hopefully, the Lockheed Martin warranties on submarines will be just as good as Microsoft’s red ring support.