The US Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) has launched a project to upgrade the protective eyewear of pilots.
The new eyewear will include different configurations to secure the eyesight of operators from laser and ballistic threats.
Features include ballistic spectacles, separate day and night spectacles, and visors compatible with night vision goggles.
Moreover, each set enables additional natural light to pass through the lens for improved visibility during deployment.
The solution will be distributed to domestic and international US Air Force pilots, excluding aircrews of the F-35 Lightning II fighter jets and the U-2 one-seater high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft.
Each individual will receive a configuration depending on their tasks. By 2027, the air force expects to field over 42,000 across the service.
“If flying low and slow or hovering like a helicopter or CV-22 Osprey, aircrew would prefer to have ballistic protection as well as laser protection,” AFLCMC Aircrew Laser Eye Protection Deputy Program Manager Mark Beer explained.
“However, if you’re in a fighter aircraft or flying in a bomber at high altitude, the chances of you needing ballistic protection are not nearly as high.”
Product of Teamwork
AFLCMC worked with the Air Force Research Laboratory to develop the protective equipment.
“They [Air Force Research Laboratory] were instrumental in the pre-engineering manufacturing and development phase and experiments with dye and filter technologies,” Beer said.
“We also worked with the US intelligence community which provided an assessment of the threats facing aircrew members. We used that information to determine what we needed to protect against and which eyewear protection technologies we needed to pursue.”