In a statement, Kelly Ortberg, Chief Executive Officer and President of Rockwell Collins, said that the decision “validates the significant achievement” by the development team that produced the helmet, which she said “provides unprecedented situational awareness capabilities in support of the F-35 program.”
“We’re looking forward to the continued development and production of the third generation F-35 HMDS, which will offer even greater capabilities while reducing overall cost for this critical program,” Ortberg added.
Bezhalel (Butzi) Machlis, President and CEO of Elbit Systems, added, “We appreciate the confidence and support of the [Pentagon’s] F-35 Joint Program Office and Lockheed Martin leading to this decision. The F-35 HMDS leverages tremendous innovation, technology base and experience gained by Elbit Systems and Rockwell Collins through nearly two decades of collaborating in development, production and fielding of thousands of advanced helmets for fighter aircraft.”
The HMDS projects all of the information F-35 pilots needs to their helmet’s visor. It features an enhanced night-vision camera, liquid-crystal displays, automated alignment and software improvements, the Israeli and American companies stated.
The helmet will also show pilots real-time images from six infrared cameras on board the aircraft, allowing the pilots to “look through” the air frame, the companies added.
The Pentagon said on Thursday it would halt work on a second pilot helmet being developed for the F-35 fighter jet by Britain’s BAE Systems and focus exclusively on the main helmet built by Rockwell Collins and Elbit Systems.
The Pentagon’s F-35 program office said the move followed improvements to the Rockwell-Elbit helmet, including a better night vision camera, and would save about $45 million in funding that would have been needed to finish the BAE helmet.
Lockheed said the move amounted to a vote of confidence in the main helmet and efforts to resolve earlier problems.
Reuters contributed to this report.