Apr 21, 2011 By Graham Warwick AviationWeek.com
Lockheed Martin plans to select the supplier of an alternate helmet-mounted display (HMD) for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter by the end of this quarter. Development issues with the primary Vision Systems International (VSI) visor-projected helmet-mounted display have led to the decision to pursue an alternate HMD to provide a night-vision capability. The F-35 does not have a head-up display (HUD), and an HMD capable of day and night operation is a critical requirement (Aerospace DAILY, March 4). “To ensure we have a viable combat capability, we will have two paths for the HMD,” says Eric Branyan, F-35 deputy program manager, adding that the alternate helmet will use off-the-shelf Anvis-9 night vision goggles and provide both virtual-HUD and targeting information. In parallel, work will continue on resolving display resolution issues with VSI’s Gen 2 HMD, which uses less-mature electron-bombarded active pixel sensor (Ebaps) technology. VSI says it is looking at more advanced versions of the Ebaps night-vision camera. A request for proposals was issued in mid-March. “We will select a supplier late in the second quarter and begin to go down the path to develop the alternate helmet,” Branyan says. “We will continue down that path as far as we have to. It’s smart program management.” “They are looking for an interim solution,” says Paul Cooke, defense avionics business development manager for BAE Systems, which is proposing a version of its visor-projected HMD in production for the Eurofighter Typhoon. BAE was developing an HMD for the F-35 up to around 2005, when VSI was selected.