Heads Up

Technical issues are hampering the performance of the F-35’s high-tech Helmet Mounted Display System, said Michael Gilmore, the Pentagon’s top operational tester, Thursday. The system is designed to provide F-35 pilots with information right on their helmet visor to help them operate the aircraft and prevail in combat. It’s meant to replace a cockpit head-up display. So far, engineers have been experiencing difficulties integrating night vision capability into the system, Gilmore told the Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday. It also suffers from symbology jitter and latency. The latter crops up particularly with infrared images at night, he said. To overcome these challenges, the F-35 program is pursuing two paths: pressing ahead with HMDS development and also exploring how to utilize a technically mature, existing helmet display system coupled with night vision goggles. “As a very last resort,” Gilmore said engineers could incorporate a HUD, but that “would be a major modification of the aircraft.” (Gilmore written statement)