By Kathleen Murray,
AFPC Talent Acquisition Division
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Air Force’s F-35 Lightning II – the newest and best fighter jet in the world – has more than eight million lines of computer code. Our fighter pilots are unrivaled. But some would say the real ‘brains’ of the operation are actually the high-tech helmet itself.
The F-35 Helmet. Created, designed, and engineered, in part, by civilian systems integration experts working for the U.S. Air Force.
The Air Force has cutting-edge technology and is always looking for the brightest and most innovative people to work in its high-tech programs. As a system engineer for the Air Force Civilian Service (AFCS), you’ll have the chance to work on the coolest tech in the world, integrating the mechanics, the coding, the electronics, and the communications.
This helmet sees through the plane. Or more precisely, helps the pilot see through the plane. They can look down while they are flying and see what’s on the ground. It’s about as close to x-ray vision as you can get. When the pilot looks down, they don’t see the floor of the plane, they see the world beneath them. Looking back up, they see sky… and any potential adversaries. The aircraft has six embedded cameras in its exterior, so moving their head gives them unobstructed images of the outside world.
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It has night-vision, infrared and 360-degree unobstructed views. A forehead-mounted computer eliminates any lag on real-time information. Its Helmet Mounted Display projects critical flight information directly onto the visor. Pilots can fly day or night, in all weather, with no change to the symbols they see and a constant horizon reference.
Systems integration engineers packed all of that into something that weighs about the same as a football helmet.
Custom-fitted to each pilot, it is more comfortable, precise, and effective than anything before it. Fully integrated with the flight suit, the F-35 helmet is certified for ejection at 600 knots. That’s over 690 miles per hour!
Capable of so much more than keeping the pilot safe, the helmet is the hub of a series of complex interlocking systems. Systems that must work together at lightning-fast speeds deciphering, transmitting, and displaying flight information, computer data, satellite imagery, and much more all the while communicating with other aircraft and ground units. Not only that, but it’s through the helmet system that the F-35 communicates with other F-35 Lightning II aircraft.
All that, so the pilot can concentrate on the mission… to fly and fight. The F-35 helmet brings together the physical engineering, the programing, the applications, all the subsystems that are part of the whole into a whole. An impossible task without a systems engineer.
A system integration engineer must have a wide array of skills; they need to be experts in the elements they are integrating: computer science, engineering, project management, IT, just to name a few. They design, integrate, and help to ensure the smooth functioning of complex systems typical in today’s high-tech Air Force.
The systems engineer is a “big picture” engineer, always keeping an eye on the design of the overall system to ensure it performs as required and meets the demands of the pilots, maintainers, and ground troops whose lives depend upon it. It’s an opportunity to lead, to be the program manager of the project, to be afforded opportunities other jobs can’t offer. The system integrator holds all the elements in their hands.
When U.S. Air Force pilots are flying faster than the speed of sound, only the very best will do. If you are a system integration engineer, wouldn’t you rather be working on the coolest stuff in the sky? You can with AFCS.
At AFCS, we don’t wear uniforms or have military service obligations, but we do work side by side with the Air Force to provide every kind of support service they need to succeed. AFCS professions include engineering, contracting, program management, intelligence, IT/cyber, maintenance and much more! The AFCS community stretches across the world and offers medical care, child care, shopping, entertainment, recreation, and everything else you’d expect from a vibrant society of highly-talented individuals committed to serving others.
Learn more about the possibilities and opportunities at afciviliancareers.com
This article was originally postedAugust 29, 2017.