The US Marine Corps and Bell are expected this month to select a replacement helmet-mounted display for the Bell AH-1Z/UH-1Y helicopter upgrade programme. EFW and Thales have submitted new proposals following the decision to abandon the BAE Systems Striker helmet display sight.

Bell is reviewing the proposals and will make a recommendation to the USMC, with a final decision scheduled for 31 May, says a programme official. Following the decision earlier this year to stop the Striker work, a trade study shortlisted the EFW Heli Dash and Thales TopOwl systems (Flight International, 5-11 February).

The requirement is to equip the USMC's planned 180 AH-1Z attack helicopters and 100 UH-1Y utility machines, with a small number of helmets to be delivered by November to support flight testing. The USMC is seeking an off-the-shelf system and is limiting integration initially to the H-1's mission computer and the display of flight symbology. This could extend later to the AH-1Z's target sight system.

EFW's proposal incorporates a day visor display based on its Dash 4 helmet, which can be reconfigured with night vision goggles incorporating head-up display symbology from Israeli parent company Elbit. The Heli Dash is limited initially to stroke symbology, but with the addition of the in-development QuadEye system could display infrared imagery. The helmet has been demonstrated on a Sikorsky CH-53E and Bell 206 JetRanger.

Thales is offering the more expensive, yet arguably more sophisticated, TopOwl helmet selected for the Eurocopter Tiger, NHI NH90 and Denel Rooivalk helicopters. The French system features an integrated visor display compatible with stroke symbology and raster imagery. TopOwl also offers a wider 40° field of view.

Striker was a more ambitious development incorporating low-light cameras, the technology for which was not mature, says a source. The overall H-1 upgrade development costs have risen 68%, forcing the USMC and Bell to restructure the programme, a casualty of which was the BAE helmet.

Source: Flight International