November 4, 2005 Boeing is conducting flight tests with a view to integrating its Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS) into the aft cockpits of the U.S. Navy’s F/A-18F Super Hornet. The testing is taking place at the China Lake Naval Air Warfare Center in California and marks the first time both the pilot and weapon systems officer have used the helmet in an F/A-18F during flight. The testing brings the Navy a step closer to providing aircrews with a significant increase in situation awareness and combat effectiveness.
First used in Operation Iraqi Freedom, JHMCS gives flight crewmembers the ability to rapidly acquire and designate a target simply by looking at it. By putting an aiming cross, which is projected on the helmet visor, over the desired target and pressing a button, the pilot can quickly and easily aim weapons and sensors to designate and attack airborne or ground targets. JHMCS also displays aircraft altitude, airspeed, gravitational pull and angle of attack on the visor, as well as tactical information, to increase the crew member's awareness of the state of the aircraft and the combat situation.
The flight testing coincides with the Navy awarding Boeing a $4.4 million addition to the current F/A-18E/F multi-year contract to provide aft-cockpit helmets in F/A-18F and EA-18G aircraft scheduled for delivery beginning in October 2007. F/A-18F aircraft to be used for validation and verification testing will be retrofit with the aft-cockpit capability beginning in late summer 2006.