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.