British helmet lets pilots abandon night-vision goggles

BAE Systems has returned to the race to build the world’s most advanced fighter pilot helmet with a model that lets users see in the dark.


The new Striker II helmet-mounted display (HMD) projects information from a special camera positioned above the forehead onto a pilot’s visor, meaning they don’t need to wear cumbersome night-vision goggles that limit the field of vision.

The British company lost the chance to supply helmets that included goggles for Lockheed Martin’s F-35 jets, after rival firms Rockwell Collins and Elbit Systems last year fixed issues with their own built-in night-vision display.

BAE now hopes its integrated version of the helmet, which the company also claims eliminates any delay between the pilot moving his head and displaying the correct information, will enable it to win future contracts.

Striker II uses a ISIE-11 sensor developed by California-based Intevac Photonics (also used by the Rockwell/Elbit helmet), to capture very low visible and near-infrared light signals and amplifies them to produce an image.

It does this by effectively converting the light’s photons into electrons that then bombard a CMOS (complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor) chip with the sensitivity needed to produce high-resolution images.

Striker II ensures that the pilot’s exact head position and the aircraft computer system are continuously in sync, eliminates any delay in determining where the pilot is looking and so positioning the information in exactly the right position on the visor.

The helmet also includes technology from the first generation Striker system, currently used by the Eurofighter Typhoon and Saab Gripen jets, that display video feeds from cameras positioned around the aircraft as the pilot turns his head, effectively enabling him to “see through” the body of the aircraft.

‘As the industry transitions from analogue to digital display solutions, Striker II brings a superior, fully digital capability to multiple platform types,’ said BAE’s vice president for communications and controls solutions, Joseph Senftle, in a statement.

‘Designed to address evolving mission requirements with advanced digital night vision technology, our new HMD was built to be ‘future proof’ and seamlessly adaptable to technology advancements in the years ahead.’