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Air Force Tests F-22 Helmet-Mounted Cueing System

Thales Helmet-Mounted Cueing SystemF-22 pilots might end up receiving a helmet-mounted cueing system after all.

The U.S. Air Force is testing the Thales Visionix Scoropion helmet-mounted cueing system for the F-22 Raptor at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, according to a report by the U.S. Naval Institute's Dave Majumdar.

Air Force officials had intended to offer the Vision Systems International Joint Helmet-Mounted Cueing System to F-22 pilots. This is the same system used in the F-15, F-16 and the F/A-18. However, problems arose when Congress started picking apart the rising costs of the Raptor and the Air Force chose to forego the helmet-mounted cueing system.

This poses a potential problem for F-22 pilots should they get into a dog fight within visual distance. Of course, the F-22's advanced radars usually give the Raptor such an advantage over other fighter aircraft that this is not as big a deal. However, the fact the F-22 can't carry the AIM-9X Sidewinder air-to-air missile only makes this harder for F-22 pilots, Majumdar writes.

Even if the Thales system receives a positive report from the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron, plenty of road blocks exist for its integration onto the F-22. First and foremost the budget situation.

The Air Force would have to take money from other programs to pay for this helmet-mounted cueing system at a time when the service is paying an inordinate amount on a different fifth generation fighter jet.

A call Friday to the Air Force's offices in the Pentagon was returned, but the service didn't have any updates on the testing.

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