Small eye piece = superior war-fighting technology

There I was…a senior airman hanging out in a room full of officers – learning about our missions here at the 115th, learning about the goals our command staff has for us, learning about the technology variances in the F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft from one nation to the next.

Was leadership talking to me directly about these topics?  No.  But, I was there to listen as they described what we do to members of the Polish Air Force.

Five members of the Polish Air Force were present – two pilots and three maintenance personnel. They spent the week here as part of the State Partnership Program. They learned about various topics in briefings, walked around the base learning about the capabilities of each shop, and spent time in operations understanding flying hour goals and the missions our pilots have. One of the topics that came up was technology – and it got me into my reminiscing mode.

Approximately three months ago, I was sitting up in Col. Wiegand’s office. I think we were filming the monthly ‘Eye on Truax’ broadcast or possibly filming him for the end of year video.  Anyway, during that interview Col. Wiegand explained our most recent technology better than I could – so I’m going to paraphrase him:

Imagine yourself sitting up in your tree stand during hunting season. Your rifle is loaded and ready. As you listen, you hear the deer crunching down on the fall leaves – but you can’t see it. You remain silent, you slowly draw your rifle up in front of you in preparation. Before long, you catch a glimpse of the 12-point buck out of the corner of your right eye. Now what? If you move too suddenly, you’ll scare him away.

Imagine wearing a helmet that would shoot your rifle in the exact direction your head is facing. With a slight turn of your head and a steady focus with your eye, you could have a nice trophy deer above your mantle.

That’s the technology our pilots have available to them! They no longer have to worry about losing speed so their jets can face the enemy, all they have to do is turn their head toward the enemy – fire their gun – and bam…the enemy is gone!

The technology is called the Helmet Mounted Integrated Targeting System (HMIT) and is barely recognizable to those who wouldn’t know to look for it. As you’ll see in the photo below, it’s a teeny, tiny little window that the pilots have to look through – that teeny, tiny window makes a world of difference when it comes to the war-fighting capabilities of our fighter jets. It displays a ton of data while allowing the pilot to maintain full vision of his/her live environment outside the cockpit. As the pilot moves his/her head, the data moves with them, giving them an advantage to most in the fighter world!

Here we go again – the 115th Fighter Wing is mission ready – its power in the ‘eye’ of the beholder!

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About Tech. Sgt. Andrea F. Rhode

Tech. Sgt. Andrea F. Rhode is a photojournalist for the 115th Fighter Wing in Madison, Wisconsin.