Fighter helmet provides 'see-through' display

The traditional heads-up display used on fighter aircraft gives the pilot navigation and weapons cues through a computerized display projected onto the aircraft’s windscreen, but the display for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter goes further.

Using a helmet-mounted display that projects computer-created symbols directly on the helmet’s visor, F-35 pilots will also be able to see a 360-degree infrared image of the ground beneath them during night flights.

The headgear is manufactured by Vision Systems International, a joint venture between Elbit Systems, Rockwell-Collins, and Helmet Integrated Systems.

Other features on the new helmet include a binocular wide fieldof- view. The helmet also employs advanced hardware and software that detects the motion of the pilot’s head and adjusts what is projected on the visor with near zero latency. That ensures that images are accurately displayed on the helmet visor wherever the pilots move their heads.

The new helmet-mounted display is necessary because the F-35 will not have a traditional heads-up display, the first tactical fighter jet in more than 30 years to fly without one.

A prototype of the new helmet first flew on the F-35 in 2007 after being in development for five years.

The F-35 is the product of a multinational program with development and funding provided by the United States, its principal partner, the United Kingdom, along with Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Canada, Australia, Denmark and Norway.

Three models of the F-35 will be produced: one version for conventional takeoff situations from airfields, another as a short-takeoff, vertical-landing replacement for the aging Harrier, and the third for carrier-based operations.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a special contributor to Defense Systems.

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