The F-35 Lightning II fighter jet is years behind schedule, but we’re finally on the cusp of seeing the most advanced aircraft in history deployed. Coming in three different models, including one that has the ability take off vertically like a helicopter, the F-35 Lightning II also comes with a $400,000 price tag for the fighter jet’s pilot. And that $400,000 is money well spent, because the helmet that goes along with the F-35 Lightning II is the most advanced piece of headgear every designed for the U.S. Military. In fact, the helmet for the F-35 Lightning II is so advanced that at this point in history we’re only one Death Star away from actual ‘Star Wars’ technology. Let’s take a look at the guts of this thing.
Designed (and redesigned many times) by Lockheed Martin, the F-35 Lightning II’s helmet actually enables the fighter jet pilot to see through the plane itself. Using a set of six infrared cameras located throughout the fighter jet, the pilot is able to actually get an unencumbered view of the world outside of the plane (which could include enemy aircraft, or anything). Just let that sink in for a moment: the pilot can actually get a view of a world in which the plane itself doesn’t exist. With no hidden obstacles or threats the pilot can detect and respond to any and every threat in the sky.
The helmet sees through the plane. Or rather it helps the pilot see through the plane. When the pilots look down, they don’t see the floor of the plane; they see the world below them. If the pilots look back, they see the sky behind them. Embedded in the skin of the aircraft are six cameras, and when the pilots move their heads to look in a particular direction, they are actually seeing through the corresponding camera, which sends an image to projectors inside the helmet that beam an image of the outside world on the helmet’s visor.
Which makes the visor not really a visor. It’s a screen that posts information the way some cars are now posting fuel and gas mileage on the windshield in what’s called a heads-up display. But beyond speed and altitude, F-35 pilots would see things such as the location of enemy aircraft or weapons on the ground.
“When the helmet’s tuned correctly to the pilot’s eyes, you almost step into this other world where all this information comes in,” said Al Norman, an F-35 test pilot for Lockheed Martin, the prime contractor. “You can look through the jet’s eyeballs to see the world as the jet sees the world.”
Seriously, this is technology that when I was younger only existed in the most futuristic of Sci-Fi movies. It’s absolutely astonishing that this sort of tech is getting rolled out in the near future to our actual U.S. Military, and it’s absolutely badass.
In addition to the helmet, the F-35 Lightning II isn’t too shabby either:
Did you just get a Freedom Boner? I bet you just got a Freedom Boner.