Lockheed Martin Gen III Helmet
The helmet shell combines Kevlar, the material used in bulletproof vests, and carbon-fiber cloth, formed by applying resin under high heat to a synthetic fiber. The checkerboard pattern comes from a plain weave of the carbon fiber interlaced at 90-degree angles to form a product that is ultralight – 4.8 pounds – and 50 times stronger than carbon steel. The helmet’s polycarbonate visor protrudes like a light bulb, but the shell is otherwise more streamlined than previous helmets and integrates features such as night-vision goggles, which once required fixing separate hardware to an external attachment point. The helmet’s foam inner shell requires at least four hours of custom fitting to each pilot before it’s cut by laser; the precision ensures that its eye tracking and visor display stay aligned even during high-G maneuvers.