By Bijan Razzaghi
The Helmet mounted Queuing system has been introduced into most American and NATO fighters over the past decade. The idea of the Helmet Mounted Queuing System is to give the pilot the ability to lock onto targets using inferred heat seeking missiles by looking at the opposing aircraft, instead of pointing the nose of the aircraft at the target. The first helmet mounted queuing system was the ZSH-5 system for the Soviet Mig-29 and Su-27s Archer missile. It was first introduced in 1985, soon after the Israelis adopted their own DASH III HMQS for their Python missile system for their F-15s and F-16s. The Americans would not introduce the system till 2003 when the JHMCS was introduced to the American F/A-18 Hornet and F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and later the rest of the legacy fighters. While the F-35s use the HMDS.
Before the US and NATO adopted the system there was the overwhelming concern of Russian Mig-29s and Su-27s using their Archer missiles in close combat. Prior to 2003 all of the western fighters such as the American F-15s and F-16s as well as the Tornado ADV relied on using AIM-9M Sidewinders and aiming the aircraft directly at the threat, the Russian aircraft had the advantage in most of these close dogfights, as a result the NATO air forces adopted tactics that relied solely on using BVR Beyond Visual Range missiles such as the AMRAAM and Sparrow while avoiding the merge when two aircraft fly within 1000 feet from each other.
During the 90s US and NATO air forces would clash with Mig-29s first over Iraq and later over Yugoslavia. With F-15s managing to shoot down five over Iraq and three over Yugoslavia and with F-16s shooting down two more. In a few of these cases F-15s used heatseaking sidewinders but the engagements saw potential threats from Mig-29s helmet system and their Archer. Today NATO and US pilots have a more improved advantage now in close combat as the JHMS works with the AIM-9X Sidewinder this variant of the AIM-9 has a three demential thrust vectoring nozzle allowing for extreme maneuverability just like the Archer. The Western Helmet mounted systems have even been able to carry flight information such as the aircrafts HUD giving airspeed and altitude while dog fighting and allowing critical information to flow to the pilot. Since 2003 US pilots have not engaged in any air-to-air combat yet Turkey has used the system along with the AIM-9X while shooting down a Russian Su-24 and Sryian Mig-23.
The F-35 lightings HMDS even offers more built to work on the Lockheed Martin F-35 Elbit Systems new helmet provides flight information as well as night vision. The helmet works with sensors around the aircraft allowing for 360 degrees of situational awareness. These new systems have given western pilots an overall advantage over there Russian counterparts.