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Fighter jet helmet lets pilots see in all directions


British Aerospace’s new Striker helmet may be one of the first to bring “augmented reality” to the battlefield. Pilots flying with the helmet don’t just get attitude, altitude and airspeed projected inside the visor, as with heads-up displays. Sensors in the helmet can tell which way the pilot is looking and feed the appropriate video signal from cameras mounted outside the aircraft so that pilots can look directly below and behind the plane, with the view projected inside the visor. Circuitry can tell what the pilot is looking at on the visor’s screen and automatically determine targets, reducing heads-down time programming weapons systems. BAE’s helmet is similar to a model in development for the Pentagon’s Joint Strike Fighter jet, both of which incorporate infrared cameras and night vision to let pilots see what’s below them in almost all flight conditions. It’s all part of a trend to reduce pilot workload and button-pushing in the cockpit, while giving fighter pilots greater situational awareness. But some critics worry that the advances are making the battlefield seem too much like a video game.