14:13 GMT +329 March 2017
    Flight helmet developed for the Joint F-35 Lightning II fighter aircraft. Joint service operations held at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.

    'Green Glow' Helmet Issue Is Blinding F-35 Pilots During Landing

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    The $400,000 helmet for the beleaguered US fifth-generation F-35 fighter jet uses state-of-the-art technology to provide a heads-up display in the visor -- but also blinds pilots during landing.

    The F-35C variant is designed for use aboard aircraft carriers, and while the F-35A and F-35B have been deemed combat-ready, the US Navy is still fine-tuning the details of its version of the $1 trillion weapons program.

    Of particular concern at the moment is the pilot helmet, and a "green glow" problem that makes it difficult for pilots to see at night.

    "You could describe it as looking through a dirty window," said Tom Briggs, acting chief test engineer for the Navy, according to Defense Tech.

    While the helmet-mounted display provides real-time targeting information and flight data, the display’s ambient light reflects inside the helmet, especially at night, obscuring a pilot’s visibility while trying to land.

    "It’s not so bad on a really bright night," Briggs said. "On a dark night it skewers outside light reference for pilots. A pilot cannot pick up the lights on the carrier as well as he’d like to, he doesn’t necessarily pick up non-lighted signals on the ship as he taxiing around, he has a harder time picking out aircraft that are flying around."

    The Navy will test a software patch that engineers hope will solve the issue of the green glow. Trials will be conducted aboard the USS George Washington soon, but early tests have shown positive signs.

    Officials are waiting for a moonless night to conduct further landing tests.

    "So we’re going to go out on a really dark night and we’re going to do our final evaluation on the green glow," Briggs said. "And we think that that problem is solved."

    Trials will also test a number of other F-35C features, as the Navy scrambles to perform final evaluations. The aircraft’s Electronic Warfare capabilities will be assessed, as well as the software used to implement the onboard device that grabs the landing wire on the deck of the ship.

    Mechanics will also perform a total engine swap.

    The helmet has come under scrutiny in relation to the F-35’s faulty ejection seat. Evaluations found that the seat was potentially dangerous to pilots weighing less than 165 pounds, and one possible cause was the five-pound helmet could cause neck damage.

    "We’ll have our first Gen 3 light helmets now aligned with the seat in November of 2016, so we can remove the restriction for the lightweight pilots weighing under 136 pounds," said Gen. Chris Bogdan, according to FlightGlobal.

    "We’ve tested helmets with similar mass properties, and we think it’s going to work."


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    F-35C, F-35, US Navy, Tom Briggs, United States
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    • Angus Gallagher
      That's what happens when there's too much money slushing around- useless things get developed that do more harm than good. A half a million dollar helmet that makes you crash your plane. Duh.
    • avatar
      Blinds or temporary disables vision .... the two are very different !
    • avatar
      the label 'made in america' no longer means what it once did.
    • Capt'nSkippy !!!
      LOL.............Well, if they dont kill themselves while trying to land this piece of sh-it, they will be killing themselves from ejecting out of it!!! They might as well make kamikaze squadrons out of them!!!
    • avatar
      Bob, letting the wicked sense of humour out again! :)
    • support
      Precious little has been done to interface with the opthamological scientific community in reference to any and all forms of LED and laser beam-projected photons by the IT community. What constitute the biggest general threat to human vision on an everyday basis are LED & LED-backlit monitor screens and Cardboard-type 3D goggles.

      For my animation & background-matte graphics work on my LED-backlit monitor, a Dell E2311, I use special UV goggles and a freeware programme called Flux.

      Who ought to have this situation by the tail though is the Hughes Medical institute. It is odd there is not a lot of news released on their optical Human Interface Device work currently.

      There are also a lot of teenagers playing about with industrial lasers on a hobby basis who I think do not have a gasp as to how precious their own vision is. The YouTube hobby channels are filled with high-school project hobbyists doing really dangerous things from a vision standpoint.

      I would rather be shot dead than blind, given the choice. It is nothing to trivialize.
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