New helmet gives pilots the edge

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Nora Anton
  • 354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Aircrews at the 18th Fighter Squadron here recently received an important warfighting upgrade that can help keep them head and shoulders above the rest.

Squadron pilots have incorporated a new helmet that features the Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System, a system which improves breathing and radio communication as well as better head protection.

The upgrade, which runs at around $1,000 per helmet, also holsters a camera and a projector that assist pilots with air operations. The camera is embedded in the helmet and sits over the left eye, allowing American servicemembers on the ground to see exactly what the pilot sees, said Staff Sgt. Jeremy Burton, an 18th FS aircrew life support technician. The projector at the top of the helmet displays information on the inside of the visor over the right eye. 

With the new helmet, pilots won't have to look at their head-up display as often, the sergeant said. The stationary HUD, located front and center in the cockpit, displays flight and target information for pilots.

The advantage of having this new system is the holographic image that is displayed wherever the pilot looks, said Capt. Jeremy Wimer, an 18th FS F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot.

"The JHMCS has three main assets," Captain Wimer said. "It gives cueing to our flight members to let them know who the friendly forces are on their radar, it shows who the enemies are and it also allows us to see ground targets or our sensor point of interest."

Another feature that will soon be implemented in these new helmets is the capability to employ high off-bore sight with air-to-air missiles, said the captain, who has four years experience flying F-16s.

"This means we will have the capability to not only point the aircraft at the enemy to shoot them, but also be able to shoot at him no matter what direction we're pointing--I could cue the missile to a target over my right shoulder if I needed to."

Captain Wimer noted the cutting-edge technology upgrade's added improvement to the human factor of flying.

"The best thing so far is the instant situational awareness it gives pilots," Captain Wimer said. "I will always know where my flight members are located." 

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