New Helmet System Enhances Targeting Accuracy

  • Published
  • By TSgt. Dan Heaton
  • 127th Wing Public Affairs
The Hog is getting nastier.

A-10 Thunderbolt II pilots with the 107th Fighter Squadron at Selfridge Air National Guard Base are implementing a new Helmet-Mounted Integrated Targeting system, or HMIT, which will shorten the amount of time needed to put bullets, bombs or missiles on target in a hostile environment.

"It adds a huge amount of capability," said Capt. Jason Holm, an A-10 pilot at Selfridge.

The HMIT system is being added to all A-10 squadrons across the Air Force, as well as to certain F-16 Fighting Falcon squadrons. Last week, technical specialists with Thales Visionix and Gentex Corp., which developed the HMIT system, also known commercial as the Scorpion, visited Selfridge to help fit the equipment to pilots' flight helmets.

The system is mounted to the pilot's helmet and provides a display over one eye that generates a variety of information in a clear screen in front of the pilot's eye. The pilot retains full vision of the "live" environment outside the cockpit, but also sees a display indicating hostile and friendly positions around the aircraft. Perhaps the biggest advantage of the system is that when the pilot turns his or her head, the display moves along with the helmet.

"So when the (Joint Terminal Air Controller) says 'look here,' and pilot turns their head, the targeting pod goes with the pilot's helmet and line of sight, right to where he is looking," said Scott Smither, a Gentex technical specialist who spent a week at Selfridge helping local pilots get fitted with the new system. "This can shorten the time between a call from a JTAC and the pilot firing a weapon by several minutes."

The 107th FS is the fifth unit to receive the system. The first HMIT-equipped squadron, the 74th FS from Moody Air Force Base, Ga., recently deployed to Southwest Asia.

During the training at Selfridge, Airmen from the 127th Operations Support Flight, which maintains aircrew equipment for the A-10 unit, were trained in how to mount the system on to the pilots' existing helmets and how to maintain the system. One of the advantages of the HMIT system, Airmen said, is that it mounts directly on to existing helmets and is compatible with existing night vision gear used by the pilots.

Holm said the system is lightweight and easy for the pilot to use.

An added benefit of the system, Smither said, is that targeting information from one aircraft can instantaneously be shared with another.

"So, it allows all the pilots to quickly be aware of where the threats are and where the friendlies are, so they can hand off targets between them very quickly, if needed," Smither said.

In addition to the equipment attached to the helmet, related equipment is being installed over the next several weeks on the A-10s assigned to Selfridge.

Comprised of approximately 1,600 personnel and flying both the A-10 Thunderbolt II and the KC-135 Stratotanker, the 127th Wing supports Air Mobility Command, Air Combat Command and Air Force Special Operations Command by providing highly-skilled Airmen to missions domestically and overseas. The 127th Wing is the host unit at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, which is also home to units of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Border Patrol and Customs and Border Protection.