Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Cockpits!

For those who haven't seen what the fighters look like from the inside, here you go:

Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II


There's no doubt about it, the F-35's cockpit is the future.  A wide, full color, touchscreen is the dominant feature.  With touchscreen capability and countless features, the F-35's display will no doubt be just the thing for a generation of pilots used to iPads and smartphones.

There is no heads-up-display (HUD).  Vital information is instead relayed directly onto the pilot's visor using the helmet mounted display, simulated in green in this picture.  Using the F-35's sensors, the helmet mounted display can even allow the pilot to "look through" the aircraft.  

Future concepts for the Saab Gripen and Boeing Super Hornet show a very F-35-like cockpit layout.

Eurofighter Typhoon


The Eurofighter Typhoon sticks with a much more conventional layout.  Three large multifunction displays (MFDs) along the traditional HUD, buttons, and dials.  The Typhoon's cockpit ergonomics has been praised by its pilots, however.  A helmet mounted cueing system is utilized, as well as a voice control allowing the pilot to select targets or perform many other functions simply by voice.

Dassault Rafale


The Dassault Rafale's cockpit is...  Well...  Different.

It certainly appears clean and uncluttered, with a traditional HUD, side mounted stick, and 3 MFDs.  For some reason, however, the two touchscreen side MFDs are located far forward, with the center MFD magnified by a lens resembling an old fashioned microfiche reader.  It's actually a head level display (HLD) that displays information at the same focal distance as the HUD.

While the Thales TopOwl-F helmet mounted display would seem like a no-brainer for the Rafale, it has yet to be realized in operational form.

Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet


In comparison to the others, the Super Hornet's cockpit looks like a blast from the past with its monochrome green displays and array of dials, switches and buttons.  This picture is a bit deceiving, however, as it is quite a few years old, and the Super Hornet has gone through a few changes since then.  


The newest proposed Super Hornet cockpit would look eerily close to the F-35's, with a wide touchscreen and a HUD replaced by a helmet mounted display.

Saab JAS-39 Gripen 


The current Gripen C cockpit very much resembles the Eurofighter Typhoon workspace, three large MFDs with a traditional HUD.  No real surprises here.


The proposed "NG" models of the Gripen, the E and F, will likely adapt a similar single large touchscreen as utilized by the F-35.  Again, it eschews a traditional HUD in favor of a helmet mounted display.  Without a doubt, this is where fighter cockpit design is going.

Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor

For sake of comparison, this is what the current "king of the sky" F-22 cockpit looks like.  Nothing groundbreaking here.  Just MFDs, and a traditional HUD.  The F-22 still lacks a helmet mounted display, as well.  

2 comments:

  1. I have some precisions about Rafale cockpit.

    That's not the regular 3 MFDs configuration indeed. The head level display is fully dedicated to the tactical situation (with data fusion of all sensors... all this stuff). So, that's not the side MFDs which are far (they're more or less at the HUD glass level, as the other cockpits you show here) but the "HLD" which is near the pilot face. You can see it here : http://www.pilotedechasse.org/photo-1674320-le-pilote-dans-le-cockpit-du-rafale_jpg.html

    We can also praise the good prediction about touchscreens... several years before the first iPhone release!

    And Rafale is the only one in this post with inactive displays, so here a picture with the cockpit "online" : http://tpe-rafale.e-monsite.com/medias/images/cockpit-couleur.jpeg


    An full glass-cockpit is clearly the future, I see no one escaping it. Rafale mid-life update is planned near 2025 : we will probably see something like that for the cockpit (among many other things!) at this time.

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  2. JAS 39E will utilise a new improved digital HUD together with the HMD. I believe it's the most sensible approach as both have their pros and cons.
    Also for such a vital part of the avionics redundancy is an advantage.

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