USAF adds ballistic protection to flight crew goggles for the first time

(To Andrea Cucco)

The United States Air Force's weapons acquisition center is upgrading protective eyewear for flight crew members.

Consisting of eight different variants, the product family Block 3 it will provide protection from laser threats and add, for the first time, a ballistic protection capability.

“The consequences of laser exposure without adequate protection could not only prevent the pilot from flying and landing safely, but could also cost them their career. Our goal is to ensure that the right glasses are available to everyone.” - underlined the head of the eye protection program, cap. Pete Coats. 

The equipment includes different glasses for day and night, ballistic glasses and visors designed to integrate with night vision glasses. They will be available to all aircrews except those operating U-2 and F-35 aircraft Lightning II.

The type of protection for your glasses will depend on the mission. “If flying low and slow or gliding like a helicopter or CV-22 Osprey, the crew likes to have both ballistic and laser protection” - said Mark Beer, deputy program manager. “However, if you are in a fighter plane or flying in a bomber at high altitude, the need for ballistic protection is not as high.”

In addition to improved protection, night glasses will allow more natural light to pass through the lenses.

“We also worked with the U.S. intelligence community to assess the threats we faced. We used this information to determine what to protect against and what protection technologies to use.” - added Beer.

Over 42.000 devices will be distributed to Air Force units by 2027.

Photo: US Air Force