The modern fighter is a multi-role aircraft which must be capable of equal performances in interception, air combat and ground attack. With the accumulation of new and old combat mission requirements, additional displays and controls appeared in the cockpit, but at the same time the physical size of the cockpit shrank.
At this point the design engineers came to the rescue by developing a HUD which is integrated to the pilot's helmet, allowing the pilot to receive the HUD information wherever he turns his head. This system is called Helmet-Mounted Display (HMD) and seems to offer the best solution today to the cockpit problem in general.
The technical basis for this method is the widely introduced helmet sight. The position of the helmet's axis is measured exactly by electronic or magnetic sensors. A computer calculates the direction in which the pilot is looking in relation to the longitudinal and vertical axis of the aircraft. The result can be used to mark targets, guide weapons or to navigate under difficult conditions.
The helmet sight is provided with simple reticle (визирная шкала), used to fix the target. The HMD incorporates a combiner (объединитель) on which the complete HUD information is projected in miniature form. The combiner may either be the helmet visor (смотровой щиток) or a special combiner (устройство индикации) for one eye only which is slid into position when needed. FLIR images can be projected simultaneously with the HUD symbology to give the pilot full night vision capability.
However, the limited amount of information which can be displayed on a HUD or HMD is no substitute for the far more detailed information available from the cockpit-mounted instruments. This led to the concept of the integrated cockpit. In addition to a standard HUD, the integrated cockpit usually consists of three multi-function displays which replace many of the traditionally singly-mounted instruments, displays, subsystem indicators, dials and gauges. The displays resemble TV screens on which the desired information can be called up according to need. The screens are full-color cathode ray tubes which provide on request any information and data available to the aircraft's central computer.
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