Lockheed has confirmed there are no plans for a helmet-mounted sight or display system for pilots of its F-22A Raptor ‘air dominance’ fighter. Lockheed sources suggest that the aircraft’s other sensors could achieve the same job, though they refused to elaborate on how this could be achieved, and no-one Flight Daily News spoke to could imagine how this was possible.

A basic helmet-mounted sight can be used to cue sensors and missile seekers on to targets outside the field of view of the head up display, obviating the need for a pilot to ‘point’ the nose of his aircraft (and thus the missile seekers) at the target. It will often provide targeting cues, telling the pilot which way to look to find a target.


A full helmet-mounted display adds more comprehensive symbology, allowing pilots to see essential flight and tactical information wherever they are looking, often overlaid on a FLIR or synthetic picture of the outside world, providing impressive night vision capabilities.

The news that pilots of the world’s greatest fighter will have to do without an aid that MiG-29 and Su-27 pilots have been taking for granted since the late 1970s has been greeted with astonishment and incredulity by the pilots of other leading fighter types, who view the helmet as a core piece of equipment.

Lt Col Picco Danielle, commanding officer of the Italian Air Force’s 9 Gruppo, part of the Eurofighter Typhoon-equipped 4 Stormo, explained that although Eurofighter pilots would get their full-featured head equipment assembly, he would personally have liked to have had an interim helmet sight, and could only say “No Way?” when told of the F-22A’s lack of such a basic piece of equipment.

Other pilots suggested that the decision could only be explained if “Raptor pilots never, ever expect to engage in a close-in turning fight”, pointing out that this would severely limit their options given some rules of engagement.

Other analysts questioned whether the F-22A’s lack of a helmet sight might indicate some insoluble problem with mapping the Raptor’s cockpit, and others questioned whether the inability of the AIM-9X to lock before launch, from inside the F-22A’s internal weapons bay, made a helmet sight pointless.

Source: Flight Daily News