New software is expected to solve the F-35 Generation III helmet mounted display problem. Pilots have complained of too much ‘green glow’, skewing their night vision.

A new software load will be tested in the coming days to hopefully eliminate the problem of ‘green glow’. The software should adjust and decrease the contrast of the Generation III helmet-mounted display. The fix is critical in order to allow pilots of the F-35C to land on aircraft carriers.

Having a pilot’s view obscured by the display’s ambient light makes it difficult to see the “meatball” landing aid or even be able to safely taxi on the flight deck.

Tom Briggs, acting chief test engineer for the Navy, described what the current helmet picture looks like.

“You could describe it as looking through a dirty window,” Briggs said. “It’s not so bad on a really bright night. On a dark night it skewers outside light references for pilots. A pilot cannot pick up the lights on the carrier as well as he’d like to, he doesn’t necessarily pick up non-lighted signals on the ship as he’s taxiing around, he has a harder time picking out aircraft that are flying around.”

Think of having the speedometer and other interior lights in your car be way too bright while driving at night. A heavy glow from inside your car would make it much more difficult to see objects in a dark environment.  The same thing is happening with the F-35 helmet.

The F-35’s helmet costs an astonishing $400,000 a piece. However, pilots are able to use electro-optical camera’s to see “through” plane’s skin and any incoming threats.

The ‘green glow’ problem obscuring the field of view in dark conditions was first reported in 2012.

It was also reported that nighttime helmet tests should start tomorrow, Saturday August 20th. However, that would be during one of the brightest phases of the moon for August. It seems that testing would occur during the darkest phase of the moon period.

You can read Hope Hodge Seck’s full article here.

Top Photo credit: F-35 Generation III helmet (Rockwell Collins)