The F-35 Helmet is used mainly on the mighty Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II aircraft.
Flight helmets have been around for many years now, practically as long as planes. However, these pieces of safety equipment were not always modern and technically advanced. In the early days, pilots wore leather helmets used for motor racing. They got a slight update in the ’30s when these pieces were adapted to fit in radio earphones and goggles, but the real change came after World War II.
Airplanes improved during and after the war because of the shifting circumstances. As they began to fly at higher altitudes, better equipment was needed to protect the pilots. Therefore, helmets changed to accommodate oxygen masks, sun visors, and many other safety gadgets.
Generally speaking, flight helmets grew slowly but steadily with the progression of technology. Over time, they gained so many enhanced features they are considered independent computers. The famous F-35 helmet is one such gadget, and we plan to talk more about it today.
The flight helmet in question is mainly used for the mighty Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II aircraft, otherwise known as the Panther. But it’s hard to say which one is more of a technological marvel — the airplane or the helmet. Why?
The F-35 Offers Serious Technology At An Insane Price
The F-35 helmet is probably the most advanced item in its class. It’s developed by Elbit Systems, an aerospace and defense company, and Rockwell Collins, another aerospace business. The latter provided the helmet with an F-35 Gen III Helmet Mounted Display System (HMDS), praised for its functionality and modernity.
The F-35 helmet looks simple but is not anywhere near that definition. It’s made of carbon fiber to reduce weight and reinforced with a checkerboard pattern and Kevlar to stay rigid. But what’s interesting the most, the helmet is loaded with displays. It provides pilots with real-time information such as airspeed, heading, altitude, targeting, and warnings. All of this goes to the visor instead of the heads-up display, increasing the pilot’s responsiveness and reducing the stress.
Probably the best feature of the F-35 helmet (although pilots that have actually used it may argue with us) is a 360-degree view. There are six cameras mounted on the outside of the aircraft, and they feed the helmet’s display with real-time imagery. Therefore, pilots can see in all directions without even moving their heads. Plus, the feature is available both day and night. Isn’t this something?
Basically, the F-35 helmet is a piece of equipment fitting for the aircraft it has been made for, which is also reflected in the price. A workspace such as this costs $400,000, more than any helmet that has been in use in the past.
But then again, the helmet offers the features that reduce the need to rely on other technology in the cockpit, and it provides out-of-this-world tech to keep pilots safe and effective in their whereabouts. You can’t put a price tag on that, right
There’s An Entire Fitting Process In Place For The F-35 Helmet
The tech and all the benefits of the F-35 helmet are undisputable. But much like with everything in life, there’s a catch. Pilots set to fly an F-35 with their new helmets need to go through a fitting process. This is no 30-minutes procedure a pilot can undergo during the coffee break. No. The fitting lasts two days!
As F-35 helmets are an embodiment of tech progress and modernity, they need to be made with precision and fit perfectly to the users so that all the features can work. Therefore, pilots must undergo head scanning and measurements that can last for a while.
What’s even more interesting, the distance between the pilots’ pupils needs to be measured with the greatest precision, so they can see a single image on the display. Otherwise, the 360-degree view we mentioned earlier would be of no use.
Of course, the fitting process also involves some safety tests, such as potential oxygen leaks, visor impairments, image distortions, and similar.
If you think the two-day fitting process is not such a bother at all, wait to hear the rest. The slightest change in pilots’ appearance can cause the helmet to not fit correctly, so these professionals need to ensure not to change the haircuts or gain even a couple of pounds.
The good thing is that the Air Force checks the helmets every 105 days or so for safety and functionality. But we can imagine refitting the helmet would take another two days at a minimum. In fact, we’re not even sure it would be possible.
Anyhow, as the F-35 helmet gets crafted with the latest technology, it also fits nicely and feels comfortable. However, it may take some time to get used to all the tech niceties offered by the helmet. As mentioned, the F-35 helmet provides some crazy features, and pilots may feel a little odd using it the first couple of times.