Pilots Try Out New Helmet in F‑16V Flight Tests

 In Air

JERUSALEM — Recent flight tests of the F‑16V fight­er jet incor­po­rat­ed a new ver­sion of the pilot’s helmet that intro­duces a visor with opti­cal iner­tial track­ers and is designed to pro­vide improved dura­bil­i­ty, accuracy and com­fort for long flights.

The Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System II is man­u­fac­tured by Collins Elbit Vision Systems, a joint ven­ture between Collins Aerospace and Elbit Systems of America.

The flight tests fol­lowed a safety qual­i­fi­ca­tion test for the helmet last year meant as a step toward making the JHMCS II the base­line helmet for the F‑16 Fighting Falcon Viper (V) Block 7072, made by Lockheed Martin. The safety test was per­formed on the ground, and the helmet was sub­ject­ed to wind blasts.

The JHMCS II is manufactured by a joint venture between Collins Aerospace and Elbit Systems of America. (Courtesy of Collins Elbit Vision Systems)
The JHMCS II is man­u­fac­tured by a joint ven­ture between Collins Aerospace and Elbit Systems of America. (Courtesy of Collins Elbit Vision Systems)

Jeff Hoberg, a co-gen­er­al man­ag­er with the joint ven­ture, said the helmet was specif­i­cal­ly cre­at­ed for air­craft like the F‑16V and builds on the legacy of the ear­li­er JHMCS vari­ants used on F‑15, F‑16 and F‑18 jets.

With an opti­cal iner­tial track­er, the JHMCS II is more accu­rate than previous models, and its improved center of grav­i­ty mit­i­gates pilot fatigue, as the helmet aligns better with the spine, Hoberg said. The opti­cal track­ing is made pos­si­ble by upgrades to algo­rithms and soft­ware, the place­ment of a track­ing part on the front of the helmet above the eyes, and a ref­er­ence unit on the dash­board con­sole of the air­craft.

“Likewise it has a color dis­play, and when you add color to the dis­play, air crew can absorb more infor­ma­tion,” he added.

The next step for the helmet, Hoberg explained, is to con­tin­ue flight tests this year and through early next year, with the expec­ta­tion that the new vari­ant will be cer­ti­fied as the base­line helmet for the F‑16V. The JHMCS II is the only helmet-mount­ed dis­play inte­grat­ed and tested on the F‑16V.

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“Flight tests is the next mile­stone as we part­ner with Collins Elbit Vision Systems on the JHMCS II, and we look for­ward to con­tin­ued col­lab­o­ra­tion,” said Danya Trent, vice pres­i­dent of the F‑16 pro­gram at Lockheed.

The F‑16V air­craft, equipped with an active elec­tron­i­cal­ly scanned array radar, are part of a new Lockheed pro­duc­tion line in Greenville, South Carolina, announced last year. The com­pa­ny said in a 2019 inter­view that it expect­ed hun­dreds of air­craft to be upgrad­ed to the Viper model and up to 500 more to be sold in the next decade, with F‑16s esti­mat­ed to be keep flying into the 2040s. The fourth-gen­er­a­tion “V” model first flew in 2015 and is going through a flight test phase. F‑16V sales and upgrades to the vari­ant are in the works for Taiwan, Bahrain and Bulgaria, among other coun­tries.

C4ISRNET source|articles

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