Rockwell Collins and Elbit Systems will continue to develop a pilot helmet for the Pentagon’s F-35 fighter jet, besting Britain’s BAE Systems, Globes reported on Sunday.
The Pentagon said it will cease development of a helmet for the plane BAE and go with Rockwell-Elbit instead, in light of enhancements to the latter’s helmet, including a better night-vision camera, and would save about $45 million in funding that would have been needed to finish the BAE helmet.
Lockheed noted that the U.S.-Israeli project had succeeded in solving earlier problems and that pilots have used it with good results.
“To date, more than 100 F-35 pilots have flown more than 6,000 flights and 10,000 hours with the helmet, and their feedback has been very positive,” said Lorraine Martin, Lockheed executive vice president and F-35 general manager.
Lockheed Martin Corp. is building three variants of the new single-seat, single-engine fighter plane for the U.S. military and eight countries that helped fund its development.
In its statement, the F-35 program office said the new Gen 3 version of the helmet developed by Rockwell-Elbit would cost 12 percent less than previously estimated. The new helmet will be brought into the F-35 fleet in 2016.
The F-35 HMDS provides pilots with unprecedented situational awareness. All the information they need to complete their missions in all weather, day or night, is projected on the helmet’s visor. The F-35’s Distributed Aperture System (DAS) streams real-time imagery from six infrared cameras mounted around the aircraft to the helmet, allowing pilots to “look through” the airframe.