When the joint strike fighter, the F-35 Lightning II, finally takes to the skies on its first official mission, it will be one of the most advanced and one of the most expensive planes ever.
And the pilots flying the aircraft will be wearing the most advanced and most expensive helmet ever.
The helmet will give pilots quicker access to the information they need to see and has special cameras to “see” through the bottom of the plane. But it will cost an estimated $400,000 per helmet — more than four times as much as the Air Force paid for head wear for other aircraft such as the F-16.
Helmets for all the F-35s scheduled to be purchased will cost at least $1 billion, Air Force Times estimates.
The helmet makes use of six cameras embedded in the skin of the plane to give pilots a 360-degree view of the surrounding airspace, including enabling them to “look through” the floor of the plane. Plus it has advanced night-vision capabilities built in; and the heads-up-display projects directly onto the visor, putting information like altitude, speed and targets right in front of the pilots’ eyes.