IAF Hercules pilots see augmented reality on first test flights

Upgraded C-130H aircraft fuse real-world video feeds with sensory data, Elbit Systems says

July 13, 2016 12:10
1 minute read.
IAF Hercules pilots see augmented reality on first test flights

IAF Hercules pilots see augmented reality on first test flights. (photo credit: ELBIT SYSTEMS)


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Israel Air Force pilots received a taste of cutting edge augmented reality display systems in recent days, during the first successful flight test for upgraded C-130H (Hercules) aircraft.

According to Elbit Systems, which carried out upgrades, the IAF completed its first test flight on Tuesday. Tests included the transmission of live data from sensors onboard the aircraft to the pilot’s helmet head-up display system. The sensor data was fused with a live synthetic video feed of the aircraft’s surroundings.

Two- and three-dimensional symbols showed up on the pilot display, Elbit said.

The defense company said pilots were pleased with the results. The pilots also responded positively to the increased safety and “reduced workload” due to the upgrades, Elbit said.

The upgrade program began in 2012, and is aimed at extending the lifespan of the older Hercules aircraft, while improving its ability to fly in low visibility conditions.

Additional test flights will occur in the coming months.

Digital systems replaced obsolete analog systems “that have become unreliable and costly to maintain after four decades of intensive service,” Elbit said.

The upgraded C-130s held their engineering test flights October 2015. Col. Ariel Manor, the head of the Aircraft Engineering Department, said at the time, “The IAF is basically receiving a new aircraft.”

The current flights are designated as operational, rather than engineering sorties.

In 2014, the IAF began receiving C-130J Super Hercules aircraft at Nevatim Air Base. The planes, acquired from Lockheed Martin in June 2013, are dubbed Samsons, and are the first of what is to make up the reinvented Elephant Squadron.

According to the IDF, the new-generation transport planes have a range of 4,000 km. and will be equipped with advanced computer systems that allow technicians to monitor the plane’s routine operations and automatically detect malfunctions.

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