According to Military.com Article, The Navy is close to fixing a technical bug in the sophisticated F-35 Joint Strike Fighter helmet that amounts to a dangerous hindrance for aviators attempting to land in the black of night on a moving aircraft carrier.
The bug prevents less experienced pilots from landing the plane on a carrier at night. The helmet emits a green glow at night that pilots find distracting.
“At night on carriers is about the darkest you can get when there is no moon,” Cmdr. Tommy “Bo” Locke, commander of Navy Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 125 told a group of defense reporters in the flight hangar on the Abraham Lincoln Monday.
F-35C pilots first reported the problem with the $400,000 helmet in 2012. Since then, the Navy has attempted to fix the problem with software upgrades, but to no avail.
“Generically what happens with the older-style helmet, when you want to dim it, you turn it down and there is still a back plane that glows and that causes the green glow,” said Rear Adm. Dale Horan, director of the F-35C Fleet Integration Office.
Related Link: $400,000 F-35 Helmet – Pilot can See Through Plane
The solution involves swapping out the current helmet-mounted displays and replacing them with organic, light emitting diodes (OLEDs).
The new fix involves using OLEDs, which present a crisper view while cutting down on the distracting light.
With the new helmet using OLED, “when you want it to work, you turn it on and raise to the level you need, so when it’s not working — when you don’t need it — it’s off. So it’s not creating that background glow,” Horan added.
Horan called the fix involving organic LED an “elegant solution.”
The problem is that Navy is running out of time, as the service plans to declare the F-35 initial operations capable (IOC) in February 2019.
IOC means that at least one Navy F-35 squadron is ready for combat. Being able to conduct night operations is naturally part of being initial operations capable.
Related Link: F-35 New Generation Super Smart Helmet
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter’s pilot helmet is unlike any other. Made of Kevlar and carbon fiber, the helmets are an extension of the aircraft sensors and control system and one of the first to employ augmented reality in military equipment.
The helmet mounted display projects all of the information that used to be presented in cockpit-mounted heads-up displays (HUDs) including airspeed, heading, altitude, and more. At the same time, the pilot can see in all directions—including straight down—through a network of six infrared cameras facing outward in all directions.
The helmet display can even overlay the aircraft flight path over the pilot’s field of vision, including ground targets and air defense threats detected by other friendly forces.