The U.S. Air Force's research arm will demonstrate a new helmet system designed to support nighttime personnel recovery missions. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) will use the CubCrafters XCub aircraft to test the Low Altitude Sensing Helmet (LASH) system at St. Mary’s County, Maryland, in spring, the military service branch said Sunday.
LASH includes night vision goggles and a thermal camera to help pilots perform low-speed flights for personnel recovery missions at night. The experiment supports Project Lysander that USAF initiated to create a way of rescuing personnel in either protected or unprotected locations.
Darrel Hopper, project lead at the 711th Human Performance Wing, said LASH is made to provide the situational awareness needed for these operations that require slow, low-altitude night flight.
USAF's Combat Operations in Denied Environment program found that large aircraft cannot effectively perform these recovery missions, and Air Combat Command determined the smaller CubCrafters XCub suitable to test LASH.
“If we can demonstrate that the XCub can be flown safely at night at low speed and low altitude using the LASH night vision aids, then we can expand LASH system kit use to other types of short takeoff and landing general aviation aircraft," Hopper said.
USAF expects LASH to be operational in 2022, given that the planned schedule is met.