JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Virginia (AFNS) –
The Air Force has selected LIFT Airborne Technologies to continue developing a prototype of a new Air Force summer crew helmet.
The helmet prototype was then selected Air Combat Command initiates the search for a next-generation helmet to deal with problems with long-term neck and back injuries, optimize aircraft technology, improve pilot longevity, and provide better adaptation for different crews.
“The current helmet is based on a 1980 design. Since then, profits in aircraft technology and pilot demographics have changed,” said Scott Kota, an analyst for the ACC Plans and Requirements branch’s flight equipment program. “The inherited helmet was not originally designed to support advances in display systems mounted on the aircraft’s helmet, which causes pilots to fly with equipment that is not optimized for them, especially our female crew.”
The implementation of helmet-mounted devices added weight and changed the center of gravity, leading to discomfort for operators. In addition, a 2020 anthropometric study found the need to add a small helmet to better optimize the fit of the affected female pilots, Kota said.
The helmet requirement was one of the first initiatives that passed AFWERXan organization of the Air Force focused on working with non-traditional defense companies to bring technological innovations in 2019.
“To better understand advances in technology, look for innovative solutions to current helmet problems, and use competition from suppliers to drive the initiative, AFWERX was a natural choice,” Kota said.
As a presenter, Kota works with other major teams and Air Force Life Cycle Management Center Human Systems Software Office in Wright-Patterson Air Force BaseOhio to set the requirements for the new helmet for Air Force operators.
Identified key parameters are weight, pilot comfort, optimized assembly and protection, stability, optimized center of gravity and integration with various systems mounted on the helmet.
“Using a simplified acquisition process to relocate the program, AFLCMC took the initiative of AFWERX and requested over 100 different designs from the industry. Promising projects were evaluated and sent for further testing, ”said Captain Timothy James, AFLCMC Human Systems Division, Program Manager, Agile Combat Support Directorate. “The innovative process has allowed us to move faster than standard acquisitions, while providing checks and balances to ensure a quality product.”
IN Air Force Research Laboratory performed most of the tests, but the AFLCMC also works with the Summer Accommodation Laboratory, the Wright-Patterson AFB Scientific Laboratory for Life Retention Systems, Tests, Analysis and Qualification, as well as the 46th Test Squadron and the 28th test and evaluation squadron in AFB EglinFlorida to narrow down the finalist to LIFT Airborne Technologies.
“These new helmets will offer greater applicability and are more suitable for operators of all sizes, genders and ethnicities,” said James.
The helmet will undergo further research, testing and improvements before the Air Force confirms that the prototype design is successful and offers a production contract in 2024. After production, ACC plans to take a step-by-step approach to deliver the new helmet to all. summer crews with fixed wing Air Force members, starting with F-15E Strike Eagle.