The U.S. Navy F-35 piliots will soon takea advantege of a new hi-tech helmet based on the OLED technology.
Earlier this year, Lockheed Martin Corp., Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, has been awarded $14,587,657 for modification of the $400,000 helmets used by the pilots of F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Aircrafts. The contract between the U.S. dept of Defence and Lockheed Martin Corp. inlcuded the delivery of Organic Light Emitting Diode Helmet Display Units.
According to Bloomberg, a bug in the current helmet LCD display screen used by F-35 aviators caused a green glow when flying in very low-light conditions.
A distracting green glow was deemed so critical that restrictions were imposed on some night landings on aircraft carriers. Jittery lines were also visible to some pilots.
Using OLEDs is expected to be overcome the issues.
Compared to LCDs, OLEDs can be used to create flexible screens, they offer improved picture quality and quicker response times. OLED benefits, however, may come at the cost of shorter screen lifespans.
The helmets are made as part of a joint venture by Rockwell Collins Inc. and Elbit Systems of America. The shells combine Kevlar and carbon fiber, and custom-made to fit the head and face of each pilot.
All the information pilots need to complete their missions – airspeed, heading, altitude, targeting information and warnings – is projected on the helmet’s visor. Additionally, the F-35’s Distributed Aperture System (DAS) streams real-time imagery from six infrared cameras mounted around the aircraft to the helmet, allowing pilots to “look through” the airframe. The helmet also provides pilots night vision through the use of an integrated camera. Through the helmet, each pilot can see video imagery of where they will land simply by looking down during vertical descent. Weapon lock-on can be also achieved by looking at targets through the helmets.
The troubled $406 billion F-35 program has been plagued by problems during its two-decade development phase. Last year, the Government Accountability Office said the project had 966 outstanding glitches, with more than 150 not expected to be resolved before full-rate production.
The stealthy jet is still months away from the completion of rigorous combat testing against potential adversaries’ defense systems.
The U.S. Pentagon announced last month a $34 billion follow-on award for 478 more fighters, taking the existing production count toward 1,000 planes.
The F-35 is available in three variants and is used by the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps. More than 10 countries have committed to buy the airplane, including Japan, South Korea, Britain, Israel, Australia and the Netherlands.