The US Air Force (USAF) has selected LIFT Airborne Technologies to continue the development of a new helmet prototype for fixed-wing aircrew.

The selection comes after the Air Combat Command (ACC) initiated a search for a next-generation helmet to meet the aircrew’s requirements.

The helmets will now undergo additional research, test and enhancements before the USAF finalises the prototype design and offers a production contract in 2024.

Once the production is complete, ACC is planning to execute a phased approach for the delivery of helmets to all the fixed-wing aircrew members.

Delivery of helmets will start with the F-15E Strike Eagle aircrew.

With the new helmet, ACC aims to address various issues including enhancing pilot longevity, solution for long-term neck and back injuries, optimising aircraft technology and delivering improved fitment to different aircrews.

ACC Plans and Requirements branch aircrew flight equipment programme analyst Scott Cota said: “The legacy helmet was not originally designed to support advances in aircraft helmet-mounted display systems, causing pilots to fly with equipment not optimised for them, especially our female aircrew.” 

The helmet requirement was the first effort to go through USAF’s innovation arm AFWERX, in 2019.

LIFT Airborne Technologies was shortlisted after Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) performed many tests to narrow down the finalist.

AFLCMC Agile Combat Support Directorate Human Systems Division programme manager captain Timothy James said: “Using a streamlined acquisition process to move the programme, AFLCMC took AFWERX initiative and solicited over 100 different designs from the industry.

“Promising designs were evaluated and submitted for further testing.

“The innovative process has allowed us to move faster than a standard acquisition while providing checks and balances to ensure a quality product.”