177th Fighter Wing receives force multiplier technology

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Matt Hecht
  • 177th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
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."