New fighter jet helmet gives pilot Eyes of the Owl

BAE leading the way in night-flight payload delivery and generally blowing sh*t up in the dark

Fighter pilot helmets are among the most exciting areas of wearable tech, but they haven't all been unalloyed successes. There are many reasons the Lockheed-Martin F-35 fighter jet has been held up for almost as long as Guns N Roses' comeback album, and is likely to be as disappointing.

However, a prime one is that its VR helmet, built to allow the pilot to "see through" the fuselage of the jet, is so big and lumpy, test pilots have claimed they can't actually look around in the cockpit during dogfights without banging their heads. That's according to Wikipedia, anyway.

Maybe that's why BAE Systems has toned down its aspirations for its Striker II helmet-mounted display (HMD), so that rather than allowing the wearer to look through walls, it merely allows them to see in the dark.It does so via a lightweight, built-in, HD night vision camera, feeding to a display on the helmet's visor.

Currently being trialled for who-knows-how-long-for, this will "lead the way to a fully integrated digital night vision helmet, replacing the need for traditional analogue night vision goggles."

This is a plus because it, "Removes the need for heavy night vision goggles which increase G-force pressures on the head and neck, limiting the pilot's manoeuvrability in the cockpit,” says Peter Kosogorin, test pilot for BAE Systems. “The helmet provides a clear and accurate visual display and a seamless transition from day to night, eliminating the need to manually configure and adjust night vision goggles.”

The intention is to provide 'plug and play' compatibility with the Eurofighter Typhoon jet, allowing pilots across the EU to gain 'Eyes of the Owl' (our phrase, not BAE Systems').

Striker II is also intended to better track the pilot's head position, so there's no delay between him or her looking at something - an enemy fighter, for instance - and the onboard systems overlaying targetting and otherinformation on it.

As BAE Systems release puts it, "The results are high-precision target tracking and engagement as well as superior situational awareness and mission effectiveness." Or as we put it: Striker II makes the pilot better at blowing sh*t up.

Now feast your eyes on these images, in which the model is by no stretch of the imagination trying too hard.

Duncan Bell

Duncan is the former lifestyle editor of T3 and has been writing about tech for almost 15 years. He has covered everything from smartphones to headphones, TV to AC and air fryers to the movies of James Bond and obscure anime. His current brief is everything to do with the home and kitchen, which is good because he is an excellent cook, if he says so himself. He also covers cycling and ebikes – like over-using italics, this is another passion of his. In his long and varied lifestyle-tech career he is one of the few people to have been a fitness editor despite being unfit and a cars editor for not one but two websites, despite being unable to drive. He also has about 400 vacuum cleaners, and is possibly the UK's leading expert on cordless vacuum cleaners, despite being decidedly messy. A cricket fan for over 30 years, he also recently become T3's cricket editor, writing about how to stream obscure T20 tournaments, and turning out some typically no-nonsense opinions on the world's top teams and players.

Before T3, Duncan was a music and film reviewer, worked for a magazine about gambling that employed a surprisingly large number of convicted criminals, and then a magazine called Bizarre that was essentially like a cross between Reddit and DeviantArt, before the invention of the internet. There was also a lengthy period where he essentially wrote all of T3 magazine every month for about 3 years. 

A broadcaster, raconteur and public speaker, Duncan used to be on telly loads, but an unfortunate incident put a stop to that, so he now largely contents himself with telling people, "I used to be on the TV, you know."