177th Fighter Wing receives force multiplier technology

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot's helmet with the Helmet Mounted Integrated Targeting (HMIT) system installed sits ready before a flight in the aircrew flight equipment shop of the New Jersey Air National Guard's 177th Fighter Wing on March 25, 2014. The HMIT is a force multiplier, with a cueing system that allows rapid target acquisition, giving aircrew the ability to acquire targets by looking at them. HMIT is also compatible with existing night vision devices, and supports night operations while retaining full color displays via a high resolution device in front of the pilot's eye. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Matt Hecht/Released)

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot's helmet with the Helmet Mounted Integrated Targeting (HMIT) system installed sits ready before a flight in the aircrew flight equipment shop of the New Jersey Air National Guard's 177th Fighter Wing on March 25, 2014. The HMIT is a force multiplier, with a cueing system that allows rapid target acquisition, giving aircrew the ability to acquire targets by looking at them. HMIT is also compatible with existing night vision devices, and supports night operations while retaining full color displays via a high resolution device in front of the pilot's eye. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Matt Hecht/Released)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Eric Halladay inspects an F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot's helmet with the Helmet Mounted Integrated Targeting (HMIT) system installed in the aircrew flight equipment shop of the New Jersey Air National Guard's 177th Fighter Wing,  March 25, 2014. The HMIT is a force multiplier, with a cueing system that allows rapid target acquisition, giving aircrew the ability to acquire targets by looking at them. HMIT is also compatible with existing night vision devices, and supports night operations while retaining full color displays via a high resolution device in front of the pilot's eye.  Halladay is an Aircrew Flight Equipment specialist with the 177th Fighter Wing, and is from Carteret, N.J.  (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Matt Hecht/Released)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Eric Halladay inspects an F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot's helmet with the Helmet Mounted Integrated Targeting (HMIT) system installed in the aircrew flight equipment shop of the New Jersey Air National Guard's 177th Fighter Wing, March 25, 2014. The HMIT is a force multiplier, with a cueing system that allows rapid target acquisition, giving aircrew the ability to acquire targets by looking at them. HMIT is also compatible with existing night vision devices, and supports night operations while retaining full color displays via a high resolution device in front of the pilot's eye. Halladay is an Aircrew Flight Equipment specialist with the 177th Fighter Wing, and is from Carteret, N.J. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Matt Hecht/Released)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Jason Halvorsen inspects his helmet with the Helmet Mounted Integrated Targeting system installed at the aircrew flight equipment shop of the New Jersey Air National Guard's 177th Fighter Wing on March 25, 2014. The HMIT is a force multiplier, with a cueing system that allows rapid target acquisition, giving aircrew the ability to acquire targets by looking at them. HMIT is also compatible with existing night vision devices, and supports night operations while retaining full color displays via a high resolution device in front of the pilot's eye. The display technology allows pilots to place data-linked symbology over enemy targets and friendly positions.  Halvorsen is an F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot from the 119th Fighter Squadron. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Matt Hecht/Released)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Jason Halvorsen inspects his helmet with the Helmet Mounted Integrated Targeting system installed at the aircrew flight equipment shop of the New Jersey Air National Guard's 177th Fighter Wing on March 25, 2014. The HMIT is a force multiplier, with a cueing system that allows rapid target acquisition, giving aircrew the ability to acquire targets by looking at them. HMIT is also compatible with existing night vision devices, and supports night operations while retaining full color displays via a high resolution device in front of the pilot's eye. The display technology allows pilots to place data-linked symbology over enemy targets and friendly positions. Halvorsen is an F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot from the 119th Fighter Squadron. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Matt Hecht/Released)

ATLANTIC CITY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.J. -- Pilots from the 177th Fighter Wing here received a new tool for their arsenal.

The Airmen will begin using the Helmet Mounted Integrated Targeting (HMIT) system, a modular add-on for the existing Gentex HGU-55/P Light Weight Helmet.

The HMIT is a high resolution glass eyepiece that is mounted onto the front of the helmet, and displays information and symbology in what is essentially an augmented reality experience. The display technology allows pilots to quickly build a 3D picture of the battle space, with the ability to place data-linked symbols over enemy targets as well as friendly positions.

"Air to ground targeting, slewing the targeting pod to wherever you are looking on the ground, that's a pretty big enhancer," said Chief Master Sgt. Jason Gioconda, the non-commissioned officer in charge of the 177th Aircrew Flight Equipment shop.

Gioconda also said that the system is lightweight, and completely customizable to each individual pilot.

"The pilots can choose color palettes and layouts prior to the mission. Once we find out who's flying, we install the modular HMIT to each pilot's physical specifications," said Gioconda. "Sensors in the cockpit as well as in the helmet work together to give the pilots an interactive view of the airspace."

Several Air National Guard A-10 Thunderbolt II and F-16 Fighting Falcon squadrons have been tapped for the HMIT upgrade. The 177th Fighter Wing received their initial HMIT shipment and maintenance training in June 2013, but recently received a second shipment and began pilot upgrade training with the system.

"The advantage of HMIT over other systems in use is that we can see a full color display and retain the use of our NVG's for nighttime operations," said Maj. Tom Still, an F-16 pilot with the 177th Fighter Wing. "Other squadrons are limited to monochrome displays, or a separate helmet and NVG system for night ops. With this system, we are saving money by having only one helmet, and swapping out the HMIT based on mission requirements."

"The HMIT is a true force multiplier," said Still. "This technology can help with both missions overseas supporting ground forces, as well as our homeland security operations."