The Air Force is working to make the capabilities of Boeing’s joint helmet-mounted cueing system available to pilots around the clock vice just the daytime under a joint project with the Navy. Speaking at the Institute for Defense and Government Advancement’s Sensor-to-Shooter conference April 1 in Arlington, Va., Col. Robert Stambaugh, commander of the 312th/326th Aeronautical Systems Wing at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, said the two services are developing a night vision cueing and display system that “brings JHMCS to the night fight.” What JHMC does is enhance pilot situational awareness and provide head-up control of aircraft targeting systems and sensors. The pilot is essentially able to detect, acquire, and engage surface and airborne targets using visual displays inside the helmet visor. This capability is sometimes referred to as “look and shoot.” Until now, however, JHMCS, which is resident on F-15s and F-16s as well as Navy F/A-18s, has been limited to the day, but the NVCD add-on will change that, Stambaugh said. The system is in qualification testing and the Air Force expects to field it in the 2009-10 period.
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.