It’s worth every one of the 40,000,000 pennies it costs. That’s 400,000 dollars if you don’t want to do the math. It’s the F-35 Gen III Helmet Mounted Display System. Made out of carbon fiber, it provides the pilot with everything that used to be one the jet’s built in HUD. Airspeed, altitude, targeting information and other warnings, all inside the visor. It even has night vision, and for once in my articles, I think that the cost is worth it. Oh, and did I mention thermal imaging.
But I haven’t even gotten to the best part. Using cameras positioned all around the fuselage of the plane, the pilot can see right through the plane. The pilot can look downwards and instead of the floor of the plane, they’ll see the clouds below. It’s much easier than tilting your plane 90 degrees and bending your neck to look out the side of the cockpit.
When the F-35 helmet shows the pilot the ground sliding by beneath, it can overlay that video with a flight path to the destination or with information about ground targets. A pilot can either tap a touchscreen on the cockpit avionics panel or press a single button on the F-35 control stick to choose among three feeds: real-time video of what’s going on outside, thermal imagery, or night vision. The system also supplies information like target identity, distance and even advises which weapon to use.
Another thing that I really like about the helmet is that it just looks nice. It’s so hard to get anything from the military that actually looks like you would want to wear it. It doesn’t have any big clunky intercom or night vision attachment or straps hanging around.
The shell of the helmet combines kevlar and carbon fibre cloth formed by applying resin under high heat to synthetic fibre. The checkerboard pattern comes from a weave of the carbon fibre interlaced at 90-degree angles making the final product ultralight–4.8 pounds–and 50 times stronger than carbon steel.
Some people who know about this sort of stuff would maybe say, “Well the helmet did have a lot of defects and accidents”, and that would be true. Every military invention has had to go through their fair share or failures and mishaps. Even the famed F-15 Strike Eagle had problems, before and after development. This helmet will save loads of space and weight for any aircraft it is adapted to.