Navy tests new stealth F-35C upgraded Helmet Mounted Display

F-35 Helmet Lockheed


Navy tests new stealth F-35C upgraded Helmet Mounted Display

The Navy has been testing high-tech adjustments to the stealthy carrier-launched F-35C’s Helmet Mounted Display to enable targeting, sensor data viewing and pilot awareness of flight information such as airspeed, heading and altitude, service, industry sources said.  

Sensors in the pilot’s Generation 3 HMD have been updated with new firmware to improve the pilots’ ability to target enemies and perform missions at night, Navy developers said.

All the information a pilot needs is projected on the helmet’s visor, rather than on a traditional Heads-up Display.  The helmet also provides the pilot with night vision through the use of an integrated camera, according to a Lockheed Martin statement.

The 3 HMD also allows for efficient viewing of sensor feeds from cameras positioned around the aircraft. The F-35’s Distributed Aperture System streams real-time imagery from six infrared cameras mounted around the aircraft to the helmet, allowing pilots to essentially “look through” the airframe.

The new display is engineered to add more image fidelity in lower ranges of brightness and low-light conditions, which allows for better targeting and carrier-landing ability in the darkest conditions when there is no moonlight, Navy officials explained.

Development and operational pilot training of the aircraft is underway after four F-35C Lightning II aircraft arrived last month at Naval Air Station Lemoore in Southern Calif.

The F-35C aircraft will join the recently reactivated Strike Fighter Squadron 125, known as the “Rough Raiders,” a Navy statement said.

“They are going to be the initial training squadron for our fleet for pilots flying the F-35C the future. This is the Navy’s first West Coast squadron. They will be flying the F-35C out of Naval Air Station Lemoore for years to come,” said Steve Fiebing, deputy public affairs officer for Naval Air Forces.

Much of the ongoing technology development of the F-35 is taking place with the Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, MD.

The F-35C is a single seat, multi-role fighter aircraft designed to eventually replace the F/A-18 legacy Hornet.

 The Navy’s future aircraft carrier-based air wings will consist of a mix of F-35C, F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, EA-18G Growlers electronic attack aircraft, E-2D Hawkeye battle management and control aircraft, MH-60R/S helicopters and Carrier Onboard Delivery logistics aircraft, such as the Navy Osprey.

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Kris Osborn is editor-in-chief of Defense Systems. He can be reached at


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