IAF may get ‘Star Wars’ helmet from European consortium


New Delhi : A hi-tech helmet, reminiscent of movies like “Star Wars” and “Firefox” as it helps fighter pilots operate aircraft through a seemingly fictional vision-and-voice command, has been offered to India by European consortium EADS.

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The helmet also enables pilots to view enemy planes by just turning their heads and picking targets for the aircraft to shoot down. It has been offered under the $10.4 billion combat plane tender.

“Designed and developed by British aerospace major BAE Systems, the helmet is part of optional purchases India could make if it chooses to go with the Eurofighter Typhoon plane in the medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) tender,” an official of Cassidian, EADS’ defence and security arm, said here Friday.

“We have given this option to the Indian Air Force (IAF) if it decides in favour of our aircraft,” the official said.

The helmet-mounted symbology system, released last July by BAE, is getting ready for use by Royal Air Force (RAF) pilots flying the Eurofighter Typhoon this year. It may soon be worn by Spanish, German and Italian fighter pilots flying the Eurofighter Typhoon.

BAE Systems had in its press release a month ago called the helmet “something out of Star Wars”, a reference to its capabilities that seem straight out of some sci-fi movie. The company said the helmet let the pilot see through the body of the aircraft.

“Using the new helmet system, the pilot can now look at multiple targets, lock-on to them, and then, by voice-command, prioritise them. It’s a lightning-fast system to let the pilot look, lock-on, and fire,” the BAE Systems’ release said.

A similar system was also showcased in the 1982 sci-fi action flick “Firefox”, which starred Clint Eastwood in the lead, in which the Americans send a pilot on a mission to steal a Russian technology by which a fictional MiG-31 fighter jet can be controlled through a neuralink.

The helmet, with a number of sensors linked to the aircraft’s computer-enabled systems, helps the pilot to view or sense enemy aircraft beyond visual range by moving his head in the direction of the target even as he flies away from its path. The out of sight enemy targets are picked up by the aircraft’s radars.

This capability ensures that the aircraft knows exactly where and what the pilot is looking at and will zero-in on multiple targets to fire its weapons based on priority listed by him, which in turn is based on speed, heading, height and positions of enemy aircraft or missiles as displayed on the helmet’s visor.