Warplanes: HUD Begins to Fade Away


April 12, 2007: The U.S. F-35 fighter-bomber will be the first fighter in a long time to lack a HUD (head-up display). The HUD will still be present, but as part of the Helmet Mounted Display System (HMDS). In other words, the HUD information will be displayed on the inside of the pilots visor, while still enabling the pilot to see through the visor. This type of helmet visor has been around for over a decade, but concentrated on allowing the pilot to control weapons by just looking at targets, and pressing the "fire" button at the right time. Now, the display technology inside the helmet has reached the point where it can handle the HUD stuff as well. The weight of these HMDS systems has come down as well, making it easier to wear them for long periods of time.

The HUD was a big innovation for fighters, as it made it possible for the pilot to spend more time with his head up, keeping an eye on the sky, or an ongoing battle. The military HUD has been around for half a century, but appears set to disappear as more pilots shift to HMDS.

Over the last few years, the visor displays have added the display of critical flight and navigation information. This, in addition to the basic function of enabling 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.

These helmet displays allow 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. It's also useful for air to ground attacks.

Helmet Photo


Article Archive

Warplanes: Current 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close