Based in Haifa, Israel, based Elbit Systems are leaders in developing helmet mounted systems for fighter pilot aircraft.
They explain this step change in graphic displays, as a necessary method of guaranteeing air combat superiority. Increasingly successful and sophisticated radar and High-Off-Boresight (HOBS) missiles and the increasing number of aircraft that can expect to take part in air engagements - meaN the bottom line is ....
The longer you stay in the air, the less the chance of survival.
The corrollary is - lock the weapon system, fire, and get away.
Swamped with spherical oriented information (data and objects coming from every section of the horizon ) demands high situational awareness by the pilot.
To do this it is essential to display flight data and three dimensional-location based systems and sensors information DIRECT to the pilot. To do this with Head up Displays is increasingly risky AS IT CAUSES INFORMATION OVERLOAD and so the new generation of helmet mounted systems have been designed.
These are designed to designate and exploiting the pilot’s LOS (Line Of Sight) for the purpose of slaving the aircraft sensors and systems and thus enabling the pilot to achieve lock-on of sensors, avionics systems and missiles, simply by looking at the target.
It was therefore interesting that with only the 10th test Flight by Lockheed Martin of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter last week, the new helmet-mounted display (HMD) system that will be the primary source of flight information for pilots of the stealthy combat aircraft was unveiled publicly.
Chief test pilot Jon Beesley used the new HMD Developed by Vision Systems International (VSI), (see pic) the HMD, having previously used straighforward head down instruments (ie manual control) - as no HUD display is available.
The HMD has been designed to integrate with the advanced avionics architecture of the F-35, (360° distributed-aperture infrared sensor and electro-optical targeting sensor) providing the pilot with video imagery in day or night conditions combined with precision symbology to give the pilot unprecedented situational awareness and tactical capability. Additionally, VSI is incorporating advanced head tracking capability to provide the pilot with a virtual head-up display. Lockheed Martin has selected to supply helmet mounted displays (HMDs) to all domestic and international F-35 customers. There was initially an alternative design helmet-mounted display, based on the binocular helmet being developed for the Eurofighter Typhoon by BAE but this announcement about the HMD system suggests it has been dropped. (See Footnote)
Developed by Vision Systems International (VSI), a joint venture between EFW Inc., a subsidiary of Elbit Systems Ltd. (NASDAQ: ESLT Tel-Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) : ESLT), and Rockwell Collins (NYSE: COL), was formed in 1996 to develop fixed wing helmet mounted display (HMD) systems. In addition to development of the F-35 HMDS under contract to Lockheed Martin, VSI is in full-rate production of Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS) for US and international operators of F-15, F-16 and F/A-18 aircraft.
JHMCS is claimed to provide pilots with a "first look, first shot" capability when employed with high off-boresight weapons under high-g conditions. The system allows pilots to lock-on and fire at enemy aircraft without having to maneuver their aircraft into position. The pilot needs only to point his head at the target and weapon systems are automatically cued to the target.
JHMCS is also highly effective when used in air-to-ground target engagements and was used extensively in this manner in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In both air-to-air and air-to-ground modes, targeting cues and aircraft parameters are displayed on the pilot's visor.
Elbit Systems was formed in 1966 and now has developed a major defence supplier. all the Directors are Israeli based citizens ......the company claim on their website ..
"Elbit Systems is one of the few companies upgrading both Western and former Eastern bloc defense platforms. In addition, we are one of only a few upgrade contractors in the world who also integrate, develop and manufacture electronic and electro-optic systems and products."For example In December 2005, Bulgaria signed a contract for the upgrade of 12 Russian Mi-24 Hind attack helicopters to a team led by Lockheed Martin and Elbit.
The CEO of Helmet systems is Yoram Shmuely who joined Elbit Ltd. in 1990 and served as director of Elbit Ltd.’s Helmet Mounted Display group. He served as a fighter aircraft pilot in the IAF. Mr. Shmuely holds a B.Sc. in electronic engineering from the Technion.(Israel Institute of Technology)
In another area of defence procurement Leicester based UAV Tactical Systems Ltd (U-TacS) was formed as a joint development by Elbit with Thales to develop the British Army Watchkeeper WK450 UAV. The Watchkeeper air vehicle, designated WK450, will be based on the Elbit 450 Hermes tactical UAV.
The Hermes 450 is a proven system with 20,000 flying hours in service. Watchkeeper, with a maximum payload of 150 Kg will provide the UK armed forces with Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) capability using day / night sensors, a laser designator and a Synthetic Aperture Radar / Ground Moving Target Indicator (SAR/GMTI).
In December 2005, the CoMPASS electro-optic observation system, supplied by El-op (a subsidiary of Elbit), and the I-Master SAR/GMTI radar, supplied by Thales Aerospace in Crawley were chosen as the mission payloads for Watchkeeper. The Watchkeeper UAV will be connected by satellite datalink to a network of containerised ground control stations (GCS) , where the imagery will be analysed and disseminated.
The 20ft-long GCS, supplied by Marshall SV, will be carried by standard DROPS trucks supplied as standard trucks which will fit in C - 130's- as pic.
Virtually the whole history of Army based UAV research has been junked to provide this second hand (albeit proven design).
Thus areas of defence industry increasingly call upon Israeli companies who have no hesitation to deal with ..as they say ... "upgrading both Western and former Eastern bloc defense platforms". Meanwhile Mr Putin is busy installing Topol Rockets and keeping his hand on the oil spigot and gas taps and pipelines to the West.
Paradoxically the vector thrust mechanisms for the STOL versions rely upon the Rolls Royce systems unique to the UK, however the increasing distance of the aircraft carriers to form the platform for the Naval JSF versions seems increasingly unlikely.
Just another illustration how the defence forces of the UK increasingly rely on foreign based suppliers - another inheritance for years of negligence and incompetence by the senior militay for all services and their political masters.
Although the Typhoon has been in service for 2 years, they are still flying with initial operating capability (IOC) (19 years in development !). Once the full operational capability (FOC) has been achieved in late 2007 (!), work will start on the extended operating capability (EOC), with a series of enhancements. The main focus of FOC validation will be the testing of the new Eurofighter Typhoon pilot helmet. A critical element of the helmet is the BAE Systems helmet-mounted sight, which enables the pilot to simply look at the target to make an off-boresight kill. The fully binocular sight uses technology from around the world, including South Africa's Denel, which supplies the helmet tracking system.
Denel have a world-class optronics business through the merger of Eloptro, Cumulus and the Kenis imaging infrared camera unit, for design and manufacture of optical and laser products, eg laser range-finders, target acquisition systems and submarine periscopes; electro-optical stabilised observation and surveillance systems, and helmet-mounted sighting and tracking systems.