Elbit Systems of America is supplying an upgraded, second-generation joint helmet-mounted cueing system (JHMCS II) for Alenia Aermacchi M-346 advanced jet trainers and is promoting the system for operators of its first-generation JHMCS 1 and new users. The company featured the JHMCS II at this year’s Paris Air Show.
The JHMCS II replaces analog CRT displays and a high-voltage cord that powers them with digital liquid-crystal displays. It is capable of displaying data in color and in high definition, and comes with a new optical-inertial tracker. The system is designed as a “low-cost, low-integration” helmet-mounted display for new aircraft installations. It weighs 4.3 pounds, about the same as the original system, but has improved weight distribution and a “fine-tuned” center of gravity. Elbit is also offering a “digital JHMCS” version for already-equipped aircraft that uses a magnetic tracker as in the original system, but incorporates “all new” aspects of the second-generation helmet display.
Elbit is supplying 36 of the second-generation systems to the Italian air force, which has started flight-testing with the helmet display on the M-346 lead-in fighter trainer. Next year, the company is to begin delivering 32 systems for new Israeli Air Force M-346s, and it anticipates a formal order from Singapore, the first M-346 export customer.
The helmet systems provide pilots with “first-look, first-shot” high off-boresight weapons engagement, enabling them to cue onboard weapons and sensors while performing high-G maneuvers. Symbology, including targeting cues and aircraft performance parameters, is graphically displayed on the helmet visor, and video and FLIR imagery can also be displayed. The original JHMCS was intended primarily for day use but was later updated to incorporate optional night-vision capability. The JHMCS II comes with day/night operational capability. The pilot snaps off the day visor and snaps on a night-vision adapter and night-vision goggles. This involves a “a simple one-handed operation…and you’re flying with cued, head tracked, intelligent vision in your night operations,” said Mark Hodge, Elbit Systems of America vice president of business development.
“The requirements for pilot’s field of regard, and for pilot’s information, are a lot different now. They need more than cueing; they need situational awareness available to them all the time, on boresight and off boresight,” Hodge told reporters in Paris. “What these systems are able to do is much more than cue weapons and steer weapons. Now a pilot doesn’t have to look down to his in-cockpit displays to understand the battlespace and get the situational awareness. We call that ‘intelligent vision.’ We’re the first guys to be able to put that on a visor, in color and with HD (high definition).”
The JHMCS 1 system has been in service for 17 years. Elbit said it has delivered 6,000 systems to air forces in 26 countries, and 3,500 aircraft are flying with it today. The system has been installed on U.S. military F-15, F-16 and F/A-18 fighters.