The US$240,000 Helmet
March 23, 2006 It’s one of the most serious high tech toys on the planet and all you’ve got to do to get your hands on one is graduate all the way to ultra-elite flight crew level. Boeing’s Joint Helmet-Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS) is used on U.S. Air Force (USAF) and Air National Guard F-15 Eagles, USAF F-16 Fighting Falcons, U.S. Navy F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, as well as the most mission-critical fighters of five international air forces. The system offers the ability to rapidly acquire and designate a target simply by looking at it. By placing an aiming cross, 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 situational awareness. How good? So good that Boeing has just received its third full-rate production order of more than 400 JHMCS systems, expanding production capacity for the second consecutive year and the total number of systems in the field to more than 2000. The JHMCS not only makes the pilot and aircraft more lethal, but it also makes them more survivable because it reduces the time the pilot and aircraft are exposed to potential enemy fire. Very serious!
"U.S. Air Force and Navy pilots continue to praise this system, which significantly increases their combat capability," said Phil King, JHMCS program manager for Boeing. "The proven success of JHMCS in the field has resulted in a steady increase in customer demand."
Pilots first used the JHMCS operationally in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Since 2000, Boeing has contracted for more than 2,000 JHMCS systems. The company is the prime contractor and integrator for JHMCS. Vision System International, based in San Jose, Calif., is the major subcontractor.