Fighter pilots get ‘X-ray vision’ with new helmet

31. July 2013

A new kind of helmet developed in the UK gives fighter pilots 'X-ray vision', enabling them to see outside the aircraft in every direction, including through its solid metal hull.

With anti-aircraft weaponry becoming ever more sophisticated, fighter pilots need all the help they can get to secure their safety, with split-second decisions making the difference between dinner back at base and a life-ending fireball.

To help better inform those life-and-death decisions, UK-based defense contractor BAE Systems has developed a new kind of helmet that allows pilots to see outside the aircraft in every direction, even through its solid metal hull. The Striker helmet uses augmented reality technology to give pilots better-than-ever views of their surroundings.

Images displayed to the pilot via the special helmet are captured by cameras placed over the outside of the fighter plane. Three sensors located inside the cockpit work with a number of flashing LED lights located on the helmet to determine precisely where the pilot is looking, allowing the system to feed the appropriate images back to the pilot via the visor, in real time.

Explaining to the BBC how the helmet works, BAE’s Alan Jowett said, “If a pilot wears a Striker helmet – which is essentially a helmet with an integrated display – when he sees something on the ground he can just turn his head, put a symbol across on to the point of interest, press a button, and the system will calculate the object’s co-ordinates. The aircraft can then turn its sensors, cameras or weapons in that direction – so it allows a dialog directly between the plane and the pilot.”

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