Jet jockeys gotta be able to see. I mean, once their jet gets off the ground, which the F-35 will, eventually, at some point in the next two decades, after 19 years and a trillion or so dollars in development. In the meantime, check out this boss helmet for F-35 pilots that costs about as much as a city in South Dakota.
They call 'er the "F-35 Gen III Helmet Mounted Display System (HMDS)... the world's most advanced biocular helmet-mounted display system," according to the company that hawks it to the Pentagon for $400K a pop. And it's, like, some super Lord of the Rings Jumanji Avatar magic carpet-ride shit:
The helmet sees through the plane. Or rather it helps the pilot see through the plane. When the pilots look down, they don't see the floor of the plane; they see the world below them. If the pilots look back, they see the sky behind them. Embedded in the skin of the aircraft are six cameras, and when the pilots move their heads to look in a particular direction, they are actually seeing through the corresponding camera, which sends an image to projectors inside the helmet that beam an image of the outside world on the helmet's visor...
"When the helmet's tuned correctly to the pilot's eyes, you almost step into this other world where all this information comes in," said Al Norman, an F-35 test pilot for Lockheed Martin, the prime contractor. "You can look through the jet's eyeballs to see the world as the jet sees the world."
And if the magic helmets work nicely in the as-yet undelivered and many-years-behind-schedule F-35 boondoggle, manufacturer Rockwell Collins hopes to hawk them to the Army for helicopter pilots. The Army has a lot of helicopters and helicopter pilots. That's a lot of baksheesh. Assuming, you know, the helmets work nicely. Which they haven't so far, according to the Washington Post:
Earlier versions were jittery when the plane hit turbulence. There was a latency in the video, which caused pilots motion sickness. The night vision technology didn't work as well as it should have. There was a "green glow" that obscured the pilots' view. Things got so bad that in 2011 the Pentagon hired BAE Systems to build a back-up helmet in case the one in development couldn't be rescued.
When a news team from the CBS News program, "60 Minutes," visited the Marine Corps station in Yuma, Ariz., a helmet malfunction caused a scheduled flight to be scrubbed, according to a Feb. 16 segment about the plane.
In case you're curious, the military currently uses smart helmets that cost about $243,000 per unit, courtesy of Boeing. But they have the added advantage of actually working in fighter jets that actually get off the ground. Proof of concept, motherfuckers!