AF puts flight simulator in night-vision goggles

AF puts flight simulator in night-vision goggles

The Air Force is building a prototype flight simulation system into night-vision goggles to help F-16 pilots navigate more safely.

Air Force officials said they saw the need for the simulator, which will be delivered in September, because training fatalities have occurred in recent combat operations. Some pilots even learned how to use night-vision goggles while they were flying.

'This is an absolutely critical need,' said Col. Mike Chapin, director of the training systems products group at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. 'If you look back at the actions in the Middle East, Afghanistan and Iraq, we do a lot of operations at night.'

The flight simulator will provide high-fidelity training for fast speeds and low altitudes where pilots must often fly. It produces images on helmet-mounted displays with the same size, weight and functionality as the real goggles used on the battlefield, officials said.

The Air Force awarded a contract worth more than $30 million to Lockheed Martin Corp. as prime integrator. Lockheed issued $5.2 million in subcontracts to SGI to build the prototype goggle system and install the technology at 14 mission training centers.

The system uses SGI Onyx 3900 visualization supercomputers running software from MultiGen-Paradigm Inc. of San Jose, Calif., and the Air Force Research Laboratory in Mesa, Ariz.

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