November 3, 2015: Strategy Page
Israel and the United States have developed a new VR (Virtual Reality) feature that enables pilots and armored vehicle crew to look through any part of the aircraft or vehicle to see what is outside. This was first applied to the "look and shoot" helmet displays used by F-35, F-15, F-16, Eurofighter Typhoon and F-18 pilots. F-35s are getting the latest model (the U.S.–Israeli HMDS, Helmet-Mounted Display System) of these smart helmets and that will include the new VR feature. These new helmets can display graphics in real time and the VR feature enables the helmet display to show what is beneath the aircraft (via cameras on the fuselage beneath the cockpit) when the pilot looks down with this VR feature turned on. This can be very useful in combat, ground attack or simply landing. This feature proved particularly effective when operating at night. HMDS is also closely integrated with the very capable F-35 avionics and thus will enable to the F-35 to be the first modern jet without a standard HUD (mounted above the cockpit instruments in front of the pilot).
The ground vehicle version takes advantage of the fact that a growing number of vehicles have numerous day/night vision vidcams mounted on the outside. These allow the crew to look at a display and switch between different cameras. That can take time. Even if it’s only a few seconds that can be too long in combat. Thus some or all the people in the vehicle can be equipped with a monocle or goggles that use the VR feature. The monocle is useful if the VR system in the vehicle does not have the data display feature. This is standard in modern pilot helmet visors. This VR capability is believed to be more useful for crews of armored vehicles where there is a lot more going on outside the vehicle that is the case with aircraft.
Other features the armored vehicle monocle or tablet will adapt from pilot helmets is the "look and shoot" helmet displays that include information displayed on the visor and sensors in the helmet. This enables the pilot to look at the target (either another aircraft, or something on the ground) and fire a weapon (missile) that will go after the target being looked at. Recent upgrades allow the pilot to also put "head up display" (HUD) information on the helmet visor visual system. This is a big advantage in air combat, where it's always been a problem having to look down at some display or instrument reading, and take your eyes off the surrounding air space. This makes it safer for pilots (especially when flying on the deck, at high speed) and in combat. Another recent enhancement allows each pilot to customize what information is shown on their helmet visor. A tank or IFV (Infantry Fighting Vehicle) crew could use the same tech, especially for the remotely controlled weapons on the turret or even the main gun of a tank.