The helmets of a fighter jet are considered one of the most important pieces of equipment for a flight as they are linked with gravity, stability, and the pilot’s comfort. Given their importance in combat and routine flying missions, every air force aims to integrate the best helmet system into their fighter jets, which is in accordance with modern flying requirements. Recently, the U.S. Air Force has chosen a California-based company known as “LIFT Airborne Technologies” to take up the task of designing their helmets for fixed-engine aircrafts in conformity with future advancements.
The U.S. Airforce is recognized worldwide for its state-of-the-art stealth fighter jets, which are always up to the most advanced standards, but you will be amazed to know that the helmets integrated with these modern jets date back to the 1980s. They have always been attached to contemporary aircrafts with their same old design. And of course, these old helmets become a cause of health concerns for fighter pilots due to their heavy weight and problems in pulling the Gs. The pilots were facing neck and back injuries due to these helmets.
It should be worth noting that the center of gravity of an aircraft becomes disturbed when these old helmets are being deployed on stealth fighters. Especially during pulling 6 or 9 Gs, the effect is twofold on pilots experiencing it. Moreover, as technology is advancing, we have seen that the air force has also started to induct females into the role of fighter pilots. Here we go! The demographics are now involved, which means a differently designed helmet for the women, which is obviously smaller in size and lighter in weight.
Seeing these arising transformations and the inability to compromise on the safety and well-being of pilots, the U.S. Airforce has decided to give the task of designing the helmets based upon current needs and specifications to non-traditional defense companies. Under the AFWERX project, the U.S. Airforce selected the most deserving and best company, i.e., LIFT Airborne Technologies, that has the ability to design the helmets as per the requirements of the U.S. Airforce.
The Air Force Life Cycle Management Centre (AFLCMC) intervened in selecting the requirements for the newly built helmets. The most important parameters which were taken into consideration for the design of the helmet were “weight, pilot comfort, an optimized center of gravity, stability, and integration with different helmet-mounted systems”. After the evaluation of more than 100 designs, which was being conducted by the Air Force Research Laboratories (AFRL), one design was finally selected, which was totally up to the mark.
The most important feature of this helmet is its lightweight. It is 42% lighter in weight than the current helmet systems being used. Moreover, five comfort liner pads have also been deployed, which help the pilots to customize the helmets as per their own fittings. In addition to this, there is an adjustment of up to 45 degrees by special bayonet receivers for oxygen masks. Also, there is no need to power the helmet through batteries as it is being charged through Aircrew Mounted Power Systems (AMPS).
In view of these testing procedures, the company will spend some more time on further modifications till it becomes fully operational for use. The U.S. Air Force will start the production process in 2024 after passing the helmet through all the quality checks, and the F-15E Strike Eagle will be the first bird to experience this technology.