Tag Archives: JHMCS

The F-16 and the Forward Air Controller (Airborne) mission

The Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon is the western world’s most prolific fighter of the last 40 years.

Born in response to LWF (Light Weight Fighter) requirement for a small and agile fighter, the Viper has become U.S. Air Force’s standard multirole jet.

Among the many tasks that the F-16 can perform, there is also the Forward Air Controller (Airborne) or FAC (A) mission.

In the cool video below you can see the strafing run of eight F-16CJs belonging to 22nd and 23rd Fighter Squadrons from Spangdahlem AB, during a NATO FACs exercise held at Nordhorn Range in Germany on Aug. 20, 2009.

But which are the skills requested to perform a FAC(A) mission?

In this kind of mission, the airborne platform has also the task to allocate fighters to targets designated by the ground troops.

Even if the FAC(A) concept dates back to WWII and, later, Korea Air War, nowadays the job generally requires a single seat plane, with a quite busy pilot who runs the radios, coordinates the attack runs with the ground troops, writes down some specific data information and flies the aircraft.

Aircraft flying FAC(A) missions usually carry a wide variety of ordnance such as dumb bombs, white phosphorus rockets (used to mark targets for inbound attackers) and also 20 mm rounds which flank the latest precision guided munitions that the Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS) and Sniper targeting pod (along with Link 16 and other on board tech) make more efficient.

The FAC(A) manages the Close Air Support stack, that is the vertical pier of airplanes that respond to the FAC(A)’s call for support.

While flying his own airplane and avoiding enemy Surface to Air Missiles (SAMs) and Anti Aircraft Artillery (AAA), the FAC(A) must keep track simultaneously the CAS stack which is made up of different types of aircraft, with many different types of air-to-ground munitions most of the times, and furthermore they have different loiter times, airspeeds and ability to hit targets on the ground.

Moreover the FAC(A) also coordinates army artillery fires. Therefore, it’s a quite busy mission!

The F-16, a fast jet that offers its pilot an impressive visibility, can carry plenty of ordnance, is maneuverable even at low-speed and high AOA (Angle of Attack) and can effectively cooperate with different types of aircraft, is the perfect asset to perform FAC(A) missions.

Another aircraft quite good in the same role is the OA-10 Warthog.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

 

Rare insight into Moroccan F-16C/D Block 52+ jets operations

Royal Moroccan Air Force F-16 jets as you have never seen them before.

The following interesting footage, brought to us by Farmorocco page, provides an interesting as well as rare insight into RMAF F16 Block 52+ operations at Ben Guerir Air Base, a former U.S. Air Force base located about 36 miles (58 km) north of Marrakech.

The video shows Moroccan F-16s operating from the base which served as a Transatlantic Abort Landing (TAL) site for the Space Shuttle, carrying CFT (Conformal Fuel Tanks), Sniper XP ATP pod, AIM120C7 and AIM9M air-to-air missiles, and AGM-88 HARMs (High Speed Anti-Radiation Missiles).

Noteworthy, pilots wear JHMCS (Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System) helmets.

 

H/T to Farmorocco’s Ysf Zhr for the video.

 

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“Selfie” of an F-16 pilot while firing a live Air-to-Air Missile

This is the ultimate “selfie”: taken from the cockpit of an F-16 launching a Sidewinder missile.

Update: here’s the video of the flight during which the selfie was taken.

Self-portrait photographs (nowadays known as “selfies“) have always been a must among fighter jocks and you can find thousands taken by military pilots in the most unusal flight conditions.

However, selfies taken while launching missiles are much more rare just because firing activities involving the launch of an air-to-air missile don’t take place too often.

Kudos to the Royal Danish Air Force for taking this really cool image.

By the way, the pilot depicted in the image wears a JHMCS (Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System) a multi-role system that enhances pilot situational awareness and provides head-out control of aircraft targeting systems and sensors.

The helmet can be used in an air-to-air role, combined with the AIM-9X missile, as High-Off-BoreSight (HOBS) system, that enables pilots to cue onboard weapons against enemy aircraft merely by pointing their heads at the targets to guide the weapons.

In this case the missile launched by the Danish F-16 is an AIM-9L/M.

Image credit: RDAF

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Farnborough 2012: This is the most advanced flight helmet, ever. The F-35’s Helmet Mounted Display System

The one depicted in the following pictures is the most adveniristic combat pilot’s flight helmet ever developed.

It is called “HMDS Gen II” and it is produced by Vision Systems International (VSI), the same company that has designed the very well known JHMCS (Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System) worn by all the F-15, F-16, F-18 pilots of the U.S. armed forces and by aircrew of several other nations.

The HMDS Gen. II integrates FLIR (Forward Looking Infra Red) and DAS (Distributed Aperture System) imaging, night vision (without somehow uncomfortable NVGs – Night Vision Goggles) and, above all, a virtual HUD (Head Up Display) into a single helmet that weights less than 5 lb. including all compontents.

The Virtual HUD technology will make the F-35 the first front line combat plane without a “conventional” HUD:  the essential flight and weapon aiming information are project onto a virtual HUD on the visor. Fusing all the information coming from the plane’s sensors along with imagery fed by a set of cameras mounted on the jet’s outer surfaces the system provides the pilot with a X-ray vision-like imagery: he can see in all directions, and through any surface, with his HUD symbology, needed to fly the plane and cue weapons through the line of sight imagery, no matter where the pilot turns his head.

Unlike other technologies, it is not an add-on to an existing helmet: it is a brand new, balanced, composite carbon fiber helmet designer with laser measurements of the pilots’ head. Each pilot will have his own HMDS and not only the U.S. Joint Strike Fighters will have one: each F-35 program nation will use the VSI helmet.

Such an advanced technology is still facing some problems: jitter, latency and decreased night-vision acuity; issues that are currently being solved.

The HMDS Gen. II can be integrated on many current combat planes (even some “competitors” of the F-35) and it was evaluated for the Saab Gripen NG.

HMDS

 

Feel the G-force: this is what pulling some Gs doing aerobatics with an F-16 looks like. In HD video.

Uploaded today to Youtube by the Royal Danish Air Force, the following HD video lets you join a Danish pilot during a solo display practice flight.

The lack of soundtrack give the opportunity to hear the cockpit sounds as the pilot, wearing a JHMCS helmet, pulls some Gs doing aerobatic maneuvers.

Along with the camera used to film the practice flight, you can see the other camera attached to the canopy by means of a suction mount similar to the one you use on your car with a GPS, behind the pilot’s right shoulder.