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Helmet Mounted Display System now operational in South African Air Force

20 September 2011

South Africa was the first Gripen customer to order the state-of-the-art ”Cobra” HMD ( Helmet Mounted Display) for use on their 26 Gripen fighters. The deliveries of the system to the front line squadron has now commenced and 2 Squadron in Makhado can now boast the first operational Cobra system in the world.

A HMD displays data directly onto the helmet visor, allowing the Gripen pilot to stay ‘heads up’ at crucial points in the mission. The Cobra is a binocular system that displays both air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons symbology, as well as basic flight data.

Selected to meet the stringent requirements of the Gripen, the ‘Cobra’ Integrated Display Helmet provides, all weather, all attitude operation over the full combat flight envelope. As a key component to the Gripen weapon delivery system, capabilities include weapon/sensor slaving with real world overlay of flight parameters, sensor data, target cuing and weapon status. These are designed to maximize effectiveness across the whole spectrum of tactical missions.

Image: Officer Commanding, 2 Squadron n, Lt Col Musa Mbhokota
Image: Officer Commanding, 2 Squadron n, Lt Col Musa Mbhokota.
Photo: South African Air Force.

The Cobra will also allow the SAAF Gripen fighters to use the full potential of their IR-missiles IRIS-T and the future A-Darter, in close-in air combat. The HMD increases the with-in-visual range air-to-air capability considerably. The two first operational flights with the HMD were performed by Officer Commanding, 2 Squadron n, Lt Col Musa Mbhokota. The Instructor in the rear seat was Saab Test Pilot Robin Nordlander.

Apart from the South African Air force, the HMD system will also be integrated into Swedish Air Force Gripen fighters.

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