Douglas Barrie/LONDON

THE ROYAL AIR Force intends to equip its Sepecat Jaguar GR1Bs with a helmet-mounted sighting system as part of a rolling improvement programme for the aircraft.

The Jaguar has been given a new lease of life following delays to the Eurofighter 2000 programme, with the aircraft now scheduled to remain in service until 2008.

The helmet-mounted sight will be used with the GEC-Marconi Thermal Imaging Airborne Laser Designator (TIALD) pod. This was integrated on the Jaguar under Urgent Operational Requirement 41/94 to allow Jaguar crews to carry out laser-guided bombing missions in Bosnia.

The Jaguar, is cleared to be used, on laser designation missions, from medium level only. Concerns over pilot workload in a single-seat environment have so far restricted laser-designation operations.

Slaving the TIALD pod to the helmet-mounted sighting system would reduce pilot workload, allowing the pilot to designate a target, using the helmet. The TIALD pod would then automatically slew on to this position.

Such a system would allow the pilot to engage targets of opportunity at low level.

The UK's Defence Research Agency (DRA) has been working on the use of helmet-mounted sighting systems for the past five years. The RAF has tasked the DRA with producing the specification for the requirement.

The DRA initially began looking at using helmet-mounted sights for use in conjunction with high off-bore-sight- capable short-range air-to-air missiles. It has since extended its area of interest into looking at using helmet-mounted sighting systems in the air-to-ground role. A GEC Alpha helmet has been used in the research programme.

Source: Flight International