The US Navy is trying to fix a bug in its F-35 helmets that first appeared in 2012 and that prevents pilots from seeing a carrier's lights at night. Meanwhile, it only allows pilots with over 50 deck landings to land on carriers at night.
F-35C pilots describe the bug as a green glow created by the LED technology in the Generation III helmet-mounted display, which spills over and prevents them from seeing a carrier's lights at night.
“At night on carriers is about the darkest you can get when there is no moon,” Cmdr. Tommy “Bo” Locke, commander of Navy Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 125 told a group of defence reporters in the flight hangar on the Abraham Lincoln Monday.
The Navy has attempted to fix the helmet problem with software upgrades to allow pilots to dim the green glow, but so far, only the most seasoned F-35C pilots are allowed to make carrier landings at night.
Currently, to be qualified to land on the carrier in the dark without fixes to the F-35 helmet, pilots need 50 carrier landings.
The Navy is working on a solution that relies on “organic LED,” or OLED, technology that should be ready for fielding by “sometime early next year,” Locke said.
F-35C pilots first reported the problem with the $400,000 helmet in 2012. Since then, the Navy has attempted to fix the problem with software upgrades, but to no avail.