F-22 Raptor stealth fighter’s advanced helmet axed by sequestration cuts

Last month we praised the decision by the U.S. Air Force to give a modern Helmet-mounted cueing system to the F-22 Raptor pilots.

In fact, the fifth generation fighter plane was (actually, still is) the only one among the U.S. front line tri-service fleet to lack such an advanced piece of flight gear that projects aiming information through the pilot’s line of sight, enabling the aircrew to look out in any direction with the cueing data always in their field of vision.

However, the Visionix Scorpion helmet-mounted cueing system (HMCS), that would have made the F-22 capable to use HOBS (High Off Boresight System) air-to-air missiles as the AIM-9X, filling a gap against other current and future stealth planes in close air combat, will not be integrated into the Raptor.

In fact, as reported by Flight’s Dave Majumdar, next summer’s Scorpion technology demonstration was canceled by budget sequester-related cuts.

The cancellation of the helmet’s integration into the F-22 is just one of the effects of sequestration: seventeen squadrons belonging to the various U.S. Air Force commands were grounded or are going to operate at a reduced readiness level until the end of Fiscal Year 2013 as a consequence of budget cuts.

As already said, the U.S. Air Force as you know it, no longer exists: the problem is that sequestration is going to have an impact not only on the number of active squadrons but also on the pilots training and equipment.

F-22 Nellis

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About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


  1. Bulls**t on sequester causing the cancellation of the helmets integration or the grounding of squadrons. This is nothing more than the creation of FUD. The military is trying to cause fear by selecting high profile targets for their cuts vs. the deadwood that is not highly visible to congress and the tax payers.

  2. I dont think is such a huge issue as it might first appear. I could do a diatribe about the tactical purpose of F-22, but you all know it, so its enough to say this plane is 100% designed to roam unseen in a hostile airspace, using surprise (and subterfuge) to destroy its adversaries before they even know its there, a task a HMDS is not particularly useful for, although Ill conceed its always nice to have the HUD info always in the field of view.

    Its certainly not good news, but its not catastrophic to the planes mission, is what Im trying to say. F-22 has lost (for now) a system that would only be used to its best advantage if all the Raptor bells and whistles fail to keep it hidden, and is forced into a true dogfight.

    There is a secondary issue too, and I think may have a lot to do with this decision. The new AIM-9 is apparently coming with ‘Lock After Launch’ capability, which is entirely necessary for a Raptor to even use a HMDS in air combat, since the ‘non-LOAL’ missiles seeker cannot be slaved to the pilots head and acquire a target if its tucked away inside the weapons bays. I expect this issue, of designing a system that can communicate target data to a departing missile without making a radiation emission (a top goal of F-22 program is minimum radiation of any kind) or quickly data burst it while it still sits in the bay, is expected to be rather difficult (and expensive), and so they have taken a moratorium on it for now, perhaps while they wait for how well the AIM-9x performs in LOAL mode.

    I really dont think the Raptor will be forever bereft of Helmet mounted sights though.

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