F-35 Lightning II Joint Program Office

HMDS Helmet Mounted Display System

In lieu of a physical Head-up Display (HUD), the F-35 uses a Helmet-mounted Display (HMD). The F-35 is the first modern fighter to use an HMD to the exclusion of a HUD. The HMD projects two identical images onto the visor, one for each eye, focused at infinity.

HUD vector symbology as well as sensor video is projected onto the visor. One of the most interesting sensors on the aircraft is the Distributed Aperture System (DAS). Surrounding the aircraft are 6 staring infrared cameras which are sensitive to thermal radiation.

The video processing computer seamlessly stitch the F-35 Lightning II Cockpit individual images together into a 4π steradian sphere for the pilot to look through. As the pilot positions the helmet line of sight the appropriate portion of the imaged sphere is projected onto the visor. This makes it possible to “look through the aircraft structure”. Because the cameras are located external to the cockpit pilots have remarked that “it is like flying Wonder Woman’s glass airplane.” This capability is extremely useful when trying to position the aircraft from a hover over the landing spot.

Revolutionary situational awareness: The next-generation user interface serves as the pilot’s primary display system, and virtual capabilities enable them to see through the bottom of the fuselage or directly at a target.

With an uninterrupted display of flight information and sensor data, the pilot experiences extreme spatial orientation, superior weapons targeting, and tactical superiority–both day and night.​