By moving the head and helmet rather than the entire aircraft at the target, pilots using a helmet mounted display (HMD) can rapidly lock sensors and missiles onto the target. The HMD enables pilots to better identify air and ground targets and maximise full performance. With the new night vision capability the helmet is the pilot’s ultimate ally.
“You can use a different technique with an HMD,” says Gripen test pilot Jakob Högberg. “HMD provides better situational awareness, the pinpointing options are simpler and we are faster at shooting.”
The system can also designate targets for the pilot, leading to a faster assessment of the tactical situation. A helmet mounted visor displays vital flight information such as altitude and air speed. In addition it pinpoints targets and supplies supporting tracking data. “Reality is combined with the system, since the pinpointing is superimposed over what the pilot sees,” says Högberg.
A HMD-system called Cobra is operational with the current Gripen C/D. For Gripen E, the Swedish Air Force and the Brazilian Air Force will use a HMD called Targo. With the Targo HMD, Gripen pilots will, among other features, get night cueing and display capabilities. The Targo system will be manufactured and supplied by the Brazilian company AEL Sistemas (AEL).
The helmet is integrated with other systems on Gripen. For maximum efficiency it is customised to the pilot’s head, thus ensuring that the visor is positioned at the right height and distance from the pilot’s eyes. The helmet sensors must also be calibrated with sensors in the aircraft so that the information is displayed in the right place in relation to reality. With customisation and calibration the pilot gets high accuracy and avoids image loss.
All in all, a HMD ultimately gives the pilot a new level of situational awareness and easier engagement options.