A Less Costly Fix for Helmet Display Unit Problems

A combined effort by the Air Force Research Lab and the University of Dayton Research Institute has developed a lower cost means to rectify failures with the Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System in use by Air Force and Navy pilots. Following high failure rates with the new JHMCS, the researchers considered both how to repair the helmet’s electronic and optical display and whether changes to materials and processing practices would reduce field failures. Each unit cost about $60,000, while the repair process will only cost about $1,000. AFRL materials research engineer Erik Ripberger said that most of the damage has occurred with a composite shell that houses the electronic and optical components of the helmet’s display units, which allow a pilot to look at a selected target, lock on, and engage. After observing the manufacturing process, the researchers recommended several changes to the construction method that produces the inner and outer composite shells. Because the “high failure rate” had left the services with a “shortage of display units,” said Ripberger, the researchers also designed and tested a repair capability that employs “composite doublers” or patches that weighs “only 17 grams more than unrepaired units.” Repairs are in the works at the Naval Surface Warfare Center’s Crane Division with the first 10 repaired helmets to be returned to the field soon. (AFRL report by Mindy Cooper)