July 24, 2010

Raytheon Shows Off New Helmet Technology

Raytheon Inc. gave a first glimpse of its Scorpion helmet technology for F-16 and A-10 combat jets via a simulator at the Farnborough International Airshow this week.

According to an Associated Press reports, the U.S. defense company's new technology transmits data on a single-eye monocle attached to an existing helmet.

The monocle is both cheaper to produce than a full visor and reduces operational costs because it is interchangeable between standard existing helmets. 

It also improves on existing helmet vision technology by adding both color and night capability to a pilot's field of vision, which allows him to cue up weapons and access data from both on-board and remote sensors. 

"On the modern battlefield, there is way more data out there than most people can use. If you are just trying to see it all through your eyes and read it in bits and bites, you're never going to understand it," said Todd A. Lovell, Avionics Department Manager at Raytheon, as he gave a demonstration of the Scorpion technology. "So the key to the modern technology is to take all that data and turn it into useful information that the pilot can recognize very quickly and act upon it."

The helmet vision sends coordinates sighted by the wearer directly to the weapons system, unlike pilots using a fixed display who must turn the nose of the plane to line up a shot.

"If I get a symbol, I don't have to turn my plane all the way over there to get a sensor locked on it," said Lovell. "It reduces the amount of time and energy the pilot has to spend in acquiring a target, making sure he has the right target, and then taking a shot."

Raytheon revealed at Farnborough that it has won a contract for initial integration and qualification of the helmet-mounted system for F-16 and A-10 aircraft flown by the U.S. Air Force and Air National Guard.

The contract is part of a program with five one-year production options worth $50 million.  The company hopes to capture the market for the estimated 4,000 F-16 aircraft operated by foreign air forces.


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