The US Air Force has moved a step closer to equipping the Lockheed Martin F-22 cockpit with a helmet-mounted cueing system.

A market research study launched on 23 March by the Air Force Lifecycle Management Command begins a potentially multi-year acquisition effort to equip an air force fleet consisting of about 180 F-22s, including about 150 combat-coded aircraft.

The “sources sought notice” will decide whether existing or emerging products can address a broad range of capability requirements listed by the air force.

The requirements include using the helmet to cue sensors and weapons. The helmet should integrate symbology and colour imagery with enhanced night vision systems. The new system also “must not hinder pilot performance during all phases and durations of flights”, the air force notice says.

The air force also wants a helmet that overlays display imagery over an external field of view generated by a camera.

The solicitation comes nearly two years after the air force’s operational testers began evaluating the Visionix Scorpion helmet-mounted cueing system on the F-22.

Integrating the helmet-mounted cueing system will allow the F-22 to exploit the high off-boresight capability of the Raytheon AIM-9X Sidewinder missile. The air force plans to integrate the datalinked AIM-9X Block II missile in 2017 under the increment 3.2 upgrade programme.