Hensoldt South Africa and BAE Systems collaborate on Striker II helmet

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Hensoldt South Africa is collaborating with BAE Systems on the development of the Striker II helmet-mounted display for the Royal Air Force’s Typhoon fleet.

In September, the UK Ministry of Defence announced it had awarded BAE Systems a £40 million contract for the new helmets, which will provide pilots with an all-digital night vision system and daylight readable colour display. Striker II displays data directly onto the pilot’s helmet visor, providing an augmented reality of the real world alongside mission critical information right before their eyes.

Building on a history of successful collaboration and the development of the Striker I, Hensoldt South Africa will supply the advanced optic sensors for the helmet and will be responsible for the development of its intelligent tracking system, the company said in a statement.

Developed at BAE Systems in Rochester, UK, the Striker II digital Helmet-Mounted Display (HMD) builds on the decades of combat-proven performance by the Striker HMD used on Typhoon and Gripen aircraft. The Striker I/II use an optical helmet tracking system developed by Denel Cumulus, now Hensoldt South Africa. The Cobra helmet adopted by Gripen users has the same system.

The Striker II supports the display of high-resolution sensor systems such as a distributed aperture systems, which allows pilots to see through the body of the aircraft. Using optical sensors embedded in the aircraft, Striker II immediately calculates the pilot’s exact head position and angle. This means no matter where the pilot is looking, Striker II displays accurate targeting information and symbology, with near zero latency.

According to Hensoldt, the Striker II offers the only full colour solution with integrated night vision available anywhere, with next-generation EBAPS (Electron Bombarded Active Pixel Sensor) night vision, optional 3D audio, and battle proven target tracking technology.

Striker II transforms the pilot’s helmet visor into an augmented reality interface, overlaying mission-critical data onto the real-world environment. Hensoldt’s helmet tracking technology precisely identifies the pilot’s focal point, facilitating tasks like real-time data display on the helmet visor. This not only enhances situational awareness in the cockpit, but also addresses the need to mitigate sensory overload.

While Hensoldt South Africa’s advanced optic sensors will be used in the helmet, the company will also be developing the system’s inertial storage driver unit (ISDU), the electronic component that provides the helmet’s ‘intelligence’. This component employs sophisticated algorithms to convert data gathered from the helmet’s sensors, the aircraft, navigational data and information about the aircraft’s surroundings into intelligible symbology that is displayed on the pilot’s visor, Hensoldt SA said, adding, “this real-time situational awareness empowers pilots to make swift, informed decisions, elevating their tactical advantage.”

“Hensoldt is proud to bolster BAE Systems’ efforts to ensure that the Striker’s capabilities remain at the forefront of innovation,” said Deon Olivier, Chief Executive of Hensoldt’s Optronics’ business in South Africa.

Hensoldt South Africa said its involvement in the Royal Air Force project is set to generate substantial foreign direct investment, while simultaneously supporting highly skilled jobs at its Irene site in South Africa, where 400 people are employed. Operations at this site focus on the design, development, and manufacturing of optical, optronic, and precision-engineered products tailored for monitoring, identification, classification and targeting purposes.