The Air Force’s Raptor pilots are testing next-generation helmets

The new wearables are built for high-G environments.
Loukia Papadopoulos
The new Air Force helmet.jpg
The new Air Force helmet.

Air Force 

The Air Force has some new helmets under development called the Next Generation Fixed Wing Helmets (NGFWH), and its Raptor pilots have been busy testing them. The new wearables consist of a lighter, cooler, and more readily equipped helmet.

This is according to a press release published by the Air Force this week. 

The helmet’s testing is overseen by engineers with the 46th Test Squadron and the 28th Test and Evaluation Squadron, while approximately five F-22A Raptor pilots from the 301st Fighter Squadron, a Reserve unit with the 43rd Fighter Squadron, fly with the new helmets.

The new helmets will offer pilots a more comfortable, stable, and balanced platform without imposing neck strain and discomfort to the user.

“It is common knowledge fighter pilots have long-term neck and back issues,” said Maj. Brett Gedman, from the 301st Fighter Squadron. 

“Therefore, having a lightweight helmet, designed with the operator in mind, will have positive long-term impacts on the health of our fighter pilots during and after service.”

Current helmets are more than 40 years old and were long overdue for an upgrade. 

“The design of the helmet allows for unparalleled visibility, mobility, and comfort in the cockpit,” said Gedman. 

Increased visibility and mobility

“The increased visibility combined with the mobility it provides made it a massive improvement over what I am used to flying with.  It is clear this has been a generational leap in technology that the fighter pilot deserves, which is long overdue.”

When operating in a high-G within visual range environment all those elements become critical.

“With near-peer threats narrowing the gap daily, it is critical the fighter pilots have every tactical advantage possible,” said Gedman.  “Details matter, and it is coming down to the smallest details, including the gear we wear.”

The new helmets are versatile, efficient and adjustable.

“From a pre-flight and build up standpoint, the new helmet is much better,” said Airman 1st Class Matthew Crouse, a 325th Operations Support Squadron AFE technician responsible for NGFWH maintenance during the testing. 

 “It makes our job much easier in the long run, but because it's so easy to adjust, we can make corrections if they are needed.”

The tests are set to be spread out to other aircraft and aircrew with the next aircraft type scheduled to test the helmets being the HC-130J and B-1B Lancer, according to the press statement.

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