April 26, 2007 (by Asif Shamim) - The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter currently in development will receive an important boost as Israel's Elbit Systems is developing the Helmet Mounted Display System (HMDS).
Jon Beelsey ready to go for the 10th test flight, the first flight with the Helmet Mounted Display System (HMDS). [Photo courtesy of Rockwell Collins Inc.]
The helmet will project all the vital information in front of the pilot eyes while they remain focused on what's happening in around them.
Developed by Elbit and its US based sister subsidiary company Vision Systems International (VSI), the HMDS uses a 'virtual heads-up display', which enables the pilot to look straight at targets instead of continually monitoring screens within the cockpit. All vital data will be projected on the visor in the helmet. In addition the HMDS will also provide flight gear, including the oxygen mask and protection against chemical and biological hazards.
The technology was originally developed as part of Israel
's Lavi fighter jet program back in the 1980s. However this program failed to get off the ground due to stiff competition from US rivals.
"We are proud to be a key partner to the F-35 industrial and government team," said VSI President Drew Brugal.
In development for the past five years, the HMDS will become a standard component for all F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft. A multi-national team, including Israel as a security cooperative participant, is developing the Lockheed Martin-produced F-35, which will be the most advanced multi-role fighter to fly.
The F-35 is the first jet in fifty years not to include a heads-up display (HUD), according to military analysts this is a great advantage. The pilot has more tactical capability in missions due to the capability of the helmet to track the exact position of the pilot's head. It also provides the pilot video with imagery during the day and at night.
"Since the F-35 has no HUD, providing virtual HUD capability has become a mandatory requirement, entailing precise head tracking and display operation near zero latency," noted Brugal.
Lockheed Martin has placed a $156 million order for the helmet to all of the F-35's customers.