In a dogfight with an enemy aircraft, an Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot looks straight ahead without one look at the altimeter, the altitude indicator or magnetic compass. For his helmet projects all that data, in real time, on the visor. Reports indicate that the MiG-21 Bison that Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman flew to shoot down an F-16, was fitted with this Helmet-Mounted Display (HMD). The IAF had procured a big number of these display systems from Israeli firm Elbit. At the recently concluded Aero India 2019 airshow here, a similar HMD system showcased by British Aerospace (BAe), had turned a big crowd-puller. Beyond speed, altitude and direction data projected onto the visor, the helmet had critical colour-coded information on aircraft ahead. Once the pilot wears it, the twin projectors fixed above the visor beams the data. Enemy aircraft is displayed in red, friendly plane in blue and unknown in yellow. Aviation experts say this could prove extremely useful in a dogfight with multiple aircraft engaged. The entire HMD data could be customised by the squadron concerned. “The information is transmitted directly from the mission computer to the visor. The Strike 1 version for Typhoon and Gripen jets had just one colour. We have demonstrated the Strike 2 to the Army for its helicopters,” a BAe official told DH. The System is now under consideration for Army Aviation pilots of the Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) and Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) made by the State-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). The HMD also comes with integrated night vision cameras with 40 Degrees field of view. Pilots could shed their NV goggles that add to the overall weight. Since every critical data is flashed on the visor, the pilot is not required to look down at the dashboard. “This gives a much wider situational awareness.” Sensors inside the cockpit track the pilot’s head movement through Infra-Red LEDs mounted on the helmet. This helps the data on the helmet visor align exactly with the pilot’s viewpoint. Every helmet is customised to fit the pilot’s head perfectly, a process fine tuned by a head scan and 3D model generation.
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