The RAF is preparing to roll out a helmet that allows fighter pilots to aim weapons just by looking at a target.
BAE Systems’ Helmet Mounted Symbology System, designed for use with the Eurofighter Typhoon, projects targets onto the helmet’s visor and uses sensors in the cockpit to detect where the pilot wants to aim.
It effectively allows pilots to see through the body of the aircraft as they can use it to look at targets picked up by radar behind or below them.
The helmet system was first tested in 2006 and is expected to go into service with the UK’s Royal Air Force later this year.
Mark Bowman, chief test Pilot for BAE Systems, said: ‘This is a major advance in terms of combat capability and is something that gives Typhoon pilots a significant advantage when it comes to air combat.
‘There is no doubt in my mind that the Eurofighter Typhoon leads the world in terms of this kind of capability – and this is something that all who have worked on the system can feel extremely proud of. It is a major advance in aviation capability.’
The helmet works by having a number of fixed sensors around the cockpit area. As the pilot moves his or her head, sensors mounted on the helmet move in relation to the sensors in the aircraft ensuring the aircraft knows exactly where and what the pilot is looking at.
Imagery projected onto the pilot’s visor gives information on speed, heading and height, as well as the precise position of any enemy aircraft or missiles.
The imagery, which remains stable and accurate at all viewing angles, means the pilot can make rapid decisions without having to take his eyes off the target. The pilot can also prioritise targets using voice commands.
This ‘look and shoot’ capability, married to a super-wide field of view gives the Typhoon pilot a 24-hour all-weather field of vision.