Keep Your Helmet On

Lockheed Martin is confident it can fix problems with the very sophisticated helmet that goes with its F-35 strike fighter, said Steve O’Bryan, the company’s F-35 business development vice president. The company is making strides in addressing jitter—the shakiness of the data displayed on the helmet visor, he said during a June 19 press conference in Arlington, Va. There’s also progress in reducing latency—the lag between the pilot’s head movements and the images he sees—and with improving the “night acuity” of the system’s optics,” said O’Bryan. Inertial stabilization units will fix the jitter—somewhat like a camera image stabilization unit, he said. The latency is down to “milliseconds,” he added. Sensitivity in darkness is also being upgraded, he noted. Nevertheless, Lockheed Martin is required to prepare for a switch to the existing Joint Helmet Mounted Cuing System and potential cockpit redesign if the company cannot bring the new helmet up to par, said O’Bryan. He doesn’t see that as necessary because “every single one” of the more than 2,000 sorties flown on F-35s so far has been with the new helmet.