WASHINGTON — The F-35 Lightning II is undoubtedly one of the most intricate weapons systems in American history, and the helmet used to fly the jet matches its reputation for sophistication.

“It is the only aircraft that has ever had the helmet made in conjunction with the aircraft,” said US Air Force Maj. Will “D-Rail” Andreotta, commander of the F-35A Lightning II Heritage Flight Team. “We have so many systems and sensors on the aircraft, so as they were building the F-35 they basically thought about how the helmet would help.”

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Capt. Brad Matherne, 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron pilot, views the flightline inside an F-35A Lightning II before a training mission on April 4 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. US Air Force Photo

Trying on his custom-fitted helmet, I found the equipment to be extremely light, weighing approximately 4.5 pounds. Andreotta, a former F-16 pilot with a total of 2,000 flight hours, explains that the F-35 helmet offers a better weight and center of gravity.

“When I flew an F-16 they basically took an old helmet and put a big computer in front of it,” Andreotta said in a recent interview.



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