Information Warfare: Putting Everything Right In Front Of You

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October 29, 2007: The U.S. F-35 fighter will be the first in nearly four decades that will not have a "Head Up Display" (or HUD, which is a see-though display in front pilot that displays system information). Instead, the F-35 pilots will use an upgraded version of the JHMCS ( Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing Systems). So far, the U.S. Air Force and Navy have bought several thousand JHMCS systems for F-16s, F-18s, F-15s and by F-22s. The JHMCS allows a pilot to see, displayed on his visor, critical flight and navigation information. Sort of like a see-through computer monitor or Head Up Display. Most importantly, the pilot can turn his head towards a target, 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. There is 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. The F-35 version will be more precise, and will display more types of visual information. The pilot will be able to change what is displayed with verbal commands.

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. Israel is getting its F-35s at about the same time the U.S. Air Force does (in about five years), and the Israelis will use a version of their DASH helmet for their hundred F-35s.

Thus the 60 year old HUD technology will move from the cockpit screen to the pilots helmet, while remaining, in its original form, for commercial aircraft and automobiles.

 


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