The U.S. Department of Defense's F-35 Lightning II program will stop developing an alternate helmet for the new fighter jet and will focus on getting its primary helmet, “Gen 2,” ready for pilots to use in operations, the program office announced Oct. 10.
The program began developing the alternate helmet in 2011 in case the primary helmet’s technical problems could not be overcome. Program officials now believe enough progress toward fixing those glitches has been made over the past two years to allow the program to end work on the second helmet.
“The Gen 2 helmet F-35 pilots currently use will meet needs for the Marine Corps to declare initial operational capability in July 2015,” the program office said.
The Marine Corps is the first of three U.S. military services that will field the stealthy fighter jet. The Air Force and Navy will follow in 2016 and 2019, respectively.
The F-35 will collect real-time imagery from cameras mounted around the aircraft and stream it to a pilot’s helmet visor, providing “360-degree awareness.” The program will ultimately upgrade the Gen 2 to a “Gen 3” configuration, which will include an improved night-vision camera, new liquid-crystal displays, automated alignment and software enhancements.
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