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VSI's Helmet Mounted Display System flies on F-35

April 5, 2007 (by Louis Taddeo) - Developed by Vision Systems International (VSI), the Helmet Mounted Display System (HMDS) was used by Lockheed Martin's chief test pilot Jon Beesley for the first time yesterday, on the 10th test flight of the F-35.

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 HMDS provides critical flight information to the pilot throughout the entire mission. In addition to standard HMD capabilities, such as extreme off-axis targeting and cueing offered on VSI's other HMDs, Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS) and Display & Sight Helmet (DASH), this system fully utilizes the advanced avionics architecture of the F-35.

The F-35 HMDS provides the pilot video with imagery in day or night conditions combined with precision symbology to give the pilot unprecedented situational awareness and tactical capability. Additionally, the HMDS, by virtue of precise head tracking capability and low latency graphics processing, provides the pilot with a virtual heads-up display (HUD). As a result, the F-35 is the first tactical fighter jet in 50 years to fly without a HUD.

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.

The HMDS has been in development for five years and has recently completed all required safety of flight tests, allowing in-flight seat ejections up to 450 KEAS (knots equivalent air speed). The HMDS has demonstrated structural integrity to 600 KEAS as a critical risk mitigation step towards full flight certification.

Principal suppliers include Elbit Systems Ltd., providing the Display Management Computer for the Helmet (DMCH) that contains advanced graphic processing and head tracking; Rockwell Collins, providing the Helmet Mounted Display, including advanced optical design; and Helmet Integrated Systems Ltd. (HISL) of the United Kingdom, providing the helmet shell and pilot personal fitting system.

Formed in 1996, VSI, is a joint venture between EFW Inc., an Elbit Systems of America company and a subsidiary of Elbit Systems Ltd, and Rockwell Collins to develop, manufacture and support fixed wing HMDs worldwide.

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