Warplanes: September 28, 2003


Israeli and German fighter pilots recently squared off in a series of simulated dogfights. As usual, the Israeli's won most of them, and attributed their success to more time in the air for training, and superior technology. One of the technology advantages Israeli pilots had was a locally made $200,000 high tech helmet. These  not only display critical flight and navigation information on the visor, but also enable the pilot to turn his head, get an enemy aircraft into the crosshairs displayed on the visor, and fire a missile that will promptly go after target the pilot was looking at. The latest version of this helmet is the JHMCS (short for Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing Systems), and it gives a well trained pilot an enormous advantage. But this only works for close range (within eyesight of each other) battles, using heat seeking missiles. The U.S. Air Force prefers to fight using longer range radar-guided missiles like AMRAAM. But there are still situations where you won't spot the enemy aircraft fifty or more kilometers away, and will have to use shorter range heat seekers. The U.S. Air Force and Navy are buying hundreds of JHMCS systems for F-16s, F-18s and F-15s. A similar system will be used by F-22 and F-35 pilots. JHMCS has an additional advantage in letting the pilot look around more often without having to look down at cockpit displays, or straight ahead at a HUD (Head Up Display.) This kind of freedom gives an experienced pilot an extra edge in finding enemy aircraft or targets, and maneuvering to get into a better position for attacks. JHMCS is also useful for air to ground attacks. Systems like JHMCS have been around for over a decade, but JHMCS is lighter and easier to wear (weight was a major problem in the past), easier to use and more reliable. The Israelis firm Elbit took the lead in developing this technology, and made many technical breakthroughs with their earlier DASH (Display and Sight Helmet) system. Elbit teamed up with American firms to develop and market JHMCS, which is largely an improved DASH system. 


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