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Helmets that allow pilots to ‘see through’ jet, value for money, says engineer

The helmet provides the pilot flying the jets information on airspeed, altitude, targeting information and warnings inside the visor.

A helmet which allows pilots to “look through” the F-35, the world’s most advanced fighter jet, is “absolutely” worth the money, an engineer has said.

Created by American company Rockwell Collins, the F-35 Gen III Helmet Mounted Display System comes with a tag of between 300,000 to 400,000 thousand dollars (£216,000 to £288,000).

A bubble of carbon fibre, the helmet provides the pilot flying the multimillion pound jets information on airspeed, altitude, targeting information and warnings inside the visor.

When pressed on whether the futuristic head gear was worth the hefty price tag, Rockwell Collins engineer Jeff Crow said “absolutely”.

“This is replacing multiple systems on the aircraft,” he told the Press Association.

“There is no heads-up display that has to be purchased, there is no night vision goggles the pilots have to interchange, and it can also be used in the simulator, so they don’t have to purchase a separate one.”

Mr Crow, who is based at the company’s headquarters in Iowa, in the US, said the helmet was designed specifically for use in the warplane.

“All the symbology is displayed on the helmet. There is no piece of glass in front of the pilot, it is all right in his eye,” he told the Press Association at an event in London on Wednesday.

The helmet can also utilise the six infrared cameras on the jet, with the feed displayed to the pilot inside the visor allowing them to “look through the bottom of the cockpit”, Mr Crow said.

“It gives the pilot unparalleled situational awareness by taking out the aircraft as they are looking around.”

Mr Crow said the helmet was also custom fit to each pilot so it “fits their head like a glove”, keeping it place even during manoeuvres, and also featured noise cancellation technology.

“It has to stay very tight on their head because under G force we cannot have that symbology moving around, it has to stay very accurate,” he added.

Last year Air Commodore Lincoln Taylor, the RAF assistant chief of staff, told the House of Commons Defence Committee he “did not recognise” reports that the F-35 pilot’s helmets would cost £309,000 each, and said issues with the helmet’s night vision which reportedly left a test pilot unsighted had been “resolved”.

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