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PAS 2011: First HMSS for RAF

21st June 2011 - 09:00 GMT | by The Shephard News Team


Royal Air Force (RAF) 'frontline' squadrons will receive their first tranche of the Helmet Mounted Sight System (HMSS) by the end of the year, officials at BAE Systems have declared.

According to BAE Systems combat air chief test pilot Mark Bowman, the first RAF Typhoon squadrons will receive the helmet systems although he could not specify, which units in particular would benefit.

Currently, the RAF's 17 Sqn Test and Evaluation Squadron, which is based out of RAF Coningsby and is equipped with a number of two-seat Typhoons and accompanying HMSS, is developing tactics, techniques and procedures and operational doctrine for the systems.

'[HMSS] is being tactically developed by 17 Sqn as we speak although it is working with a raft of other issues,' Bowman described while referring to the squadron's assistance to ongoing operations in Libya.

Pondering where the system sits in 17 Sqn's priority list, he continued: 'From what I gather, certainly [HMSS] will be used [for frontline units] this year.' He added that the helmets would also be delivered to international customers alongside Typhoon aircraft.

However, Bowman admitted that 17 Sqn was currently using night vision equipment in conjunction with the HMSS as an 'interim solution' and described aspirations for a progressive upgrade programme to reach a full integrated capability: 'There's a clear upgrade path there and great economies of scale to be had and an aspiration to have any pilot starting in the air force, wherever in the world, to have something like this helmet although maybe not in its full capability,' Bowman said.

Looking ahead, Bowman outlined his expectations for the introduction of additional imagery capabilities covering different brackets of the EO/IR spectrum. 'We are actively looking at what we can do to upgrade symbology to help the pilot and are already getting feedback on what the pilot sees in front of him,' he continued adding that this could include overlays of FLIR and image intensification technology.

Finally, Bowman conceded that there were potential restraints to any upgrades and cited technology maturity as a concern. 'We need high definition, resolution and low latency [capabilities] but we are talking a number of years as opposed to decades,' he asserted.

The Shephard News Team


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