Dueling Helmets

Lockheed Martin intends to award a contract this summer for a legacy-based alternative helmet for the F-35 strike fighter, said Steve O’Bryan, director of F-35 business development. At the same time, the company will continue working to improve the performance of the night-vision capability on the high-tech Helmet Mounted Display System—the preferred path. The HMDS displays information pulled from six infrared cameras mounted around the airplane right on the pilot’s visor. “We will continue on the concurrent path until we are convinced that we can provide the required capability to the warfighter,” O’Bryan said during a company-sponsored media day Tuesday at its facility in Arlington, Va. The legacy system does not include a night-vision capability and will require some rewiring in the cockpit once a winner is chosen, but O’Bryan said it’s too early to determine exactly how that will set back aircraft production. “In the [request for proposal], we asked for something that would require minimal changes to the current design of the cockpit and [the bidders] will be evaluated on that,” he said.