French special forces helicopter pilots to use augmented reality helmet

NHIndustries, the consortium made up of Airbus, Leonardo Helicopters, and Fokker, chose the TopOwl Digital Display helmet developed by Thales for the special forces version of its NH90 helicopter.

The helmet was developed at the request of the French General Directorate of Armaments (DGA) for the needs of the French special forces. It offers increased situational awareness to the pilot, especially in extreme environmental conditions such as sand, snow, fog, or during the night, “thanks to augmented reality resulting from the synthetic vision of the terrain and information from 2D or 3D sensors and cameras,” as Thales explains.

The TopOwl helmet was also selected for the standard 3 of the Tiger combat helicopter which has yet to be contracted by France, Germany, and Spain, as well as the Bell AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters ordered by Bahrain.

The NH90 is a twin-engine military transport helicopter resulting from a partnership between  France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands. The development of a “Special Forces” variant (NH90 FS) was contracted by the DGA in October 2020. Ten NH90 FS helicopters were ordered by France so far. The first deliveries to the 4th Special Forces Helicopter Regiment of the French Army Light Aviation (ALAT) are expected by 2025.

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