What are the capabilities or technologies that distinguish advanced fighter aircraft from their predecessors? Any list should include electronically-scanning radar and other sensors, high-performance engines, advanced avionics, and maybe precision munitions. For fifth-generation aircraft, the F-22 and F-35, supercruise power, stealth shaping and coating, and information sharing would be added. But what about helmet-mounted displays (HMDs)? HMDs are now part of the equipment aboard thousands of fourth- and fifth-generation aircraft. HMDs constitute a key advantage for U.S. and allied pilots in any future conflict. I have written more about the importance of advanced HMDs to U.S. and friendly air forces here.
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