Lockheed Martin’s F-35 program has scrapped an alternate helmet testing program in favor of "exclusively" focusing on developing the Rockwell Collins Elbit Systems of America Vision Systems Generation 2 (Gen 2) helmet in an effort to save $45 million on the program.
The program's decision to go with the Rockwell Collins-Elbit helmet erases doubts that were raised by "program and industry officials"in 2011. At the time, BAE Systems began developing an alternate helmet, as part of a dual-path development plan.
"To date, more than 100 F-35 pilots have flown more than 6,000 flights and 10,000 hours with the helmet, and their feedback has been very positive. Lockheed Martin and its suppliers will continue to focus on developing and delivering the helmet's unprecedented capabilities to the warfighter in support of the services’ declaration of Initial Operating Capability,” said Lorraine Martin, general manager of the F-35 program at Lockheed Martin.
Rockwell Collins' helmet streams real-time imagery from six infrared cameras mounted around the aircraft and also gives pilots weather and other situational awareness information. The F-35's Digital Aperture System provides the helmet stream from the cameras.
An upgraded Generation 3 helmet is planned for the Low Rate Initial Production lot 7, which Lockheed is currently in negotiations with the Pentagon over. The third installment will feature an improved night vision camera and upgraded liquid crystal displays.