F-22 pilots are undertaking testing for the US Air Force’s new next-generation fixed-wing helmet, the intended replacement to be used by all aircrew.
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A second series of developmental flight tests are currently underway for the LIFT Airborne Technologies-manufactured helmet at Eglin Air Force Base. The NGFWH is expected to replace the standard HGU-55, excluding specialist headgear worn on F-35 Lightning II aircraft.
The NGFWH equipment is reportedly a more comfortable, stable, and balanced platform with the ability to carry helmet-mounted devices without imposing neck strain and discomfort to the user. It also provides night-vision goggle mounts and an adjustable occipital basket as standard.
“It is common knowledge fighter pilots have long-term neck and back issues,” said Major Brett Gedman, 301st FS pilot.
“Therefore, having a lightweight helmet designed with the operator in mind will have positive long-term impacts on the health of our fighter pilots during and after service.”
“The design of the helmet allows for unparalleled visibility, mobility and comfort in the cockpit.”
“The increased visibility combined with the mobility it provides made it a massive improvement over what I am used to flying with. It is clear this has been a generational leap in technology that the fighter pilot deserves, which is long overdue.
“With near-peer threats narrowing the gap daily, it is critical the fighter pilots have every tactical advantage possible. Details matter and it is coming down to the smallest details including the gear we wear.”
The new helmet is also being tested by US aircrew flight equipment technicians responsible for preparing, equipping, and maintaining the helmets. It will next be tested by HC-130J Combat King II and B-1B Lancer crews.
Airman 1st Class Matthew Crouse, 325th Operations Support Squadron AFE technician providing responsible NGFWH maintenance during the testing, said previous helmets required aircrew to use power tools to drill into a helmet and secure helmet-mounted devices.
“From a pre-flight and build-up standpoint, the new helmet is much better,” he said.
“It makes our job much easier in the long run, but because it’s so easy to adjust, we can make corrections if they are needed.”