Lockheed Martin, Vision Systems International and the F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) are making progress with solving night vision acuity problems on the F-35's helmet-mounted display, says a senior test pilot assigned to the programme.

Test pilots recently tested a modified second-generation helmet fitted with a new 1600x1200 resolution ISIE-11 night vision camera coupled with a new display management computer/helmet, says Lt Col Matt Kelly, an F-35 test pilot assigned to the JPO.

Kelly says the ISIE-11 immensely improves the helmet's night vision capabilities.

"The ISIE-11 has great potential for tactical operations," Kelly says of the new system. However, there is still a lot of work to do before the helmet is ready for fleet release - the system will have to be demonstrated in the air before test pilots give it a green light.

Meanwhile, the F-35 JPO is still funding parallel development work on a BAE Systems-developed helmet into the third quarter of 2014.

F-35B test pilots on the USS Wasp are using the existing helmet with the current ISIE-10 camera, which has been judged to have deficient night-vision performance.

The ISIE-10 has inferior night vision capability compared with the ANVIS-9 night vision goggles (NVGs) used in the Boeing AV-8B and F/A-18. However, pilots say it is easier to land the F-35B unaided by the night vision camera on a ship than a AV-8B with NVGs.

Source: Flight International