The introduction of helmet mounted sights like the US-Israeli JHMCS and its F-35 successor the HMDS, Thales TopSight/TopOwl, Saab Cobra, et. al. have changed air combat. They’ve also changed the biodynamics of fighter cockpits, because they’re inevitably bulkier and heavier than the older helmets they replaced. During high-g fighter maneuvers – or worse, rocket-boosted ejections – that can become a problem. StrategyPage reports that the USAF has introduced a new neck muscle exercise machine in some air force gyms, in order to compensate.
Now Survival Innovations, Inc of Arden, NC received a contract for $6 million “to tailor development, integration and testing of a head and neck restraint system to provide improved head and neck injury protection within acceptable limits for the smaller anthropometric population range of fighter aircraft, thereby optimizing warfighter injury tolerance and protection during emergency escape.”
This is not necessarily about the development of a new ejection system, but rather about research that could benefit all aircraft ejection systems. At this time, all funds are already committed; Wright-Patterson AFB, OH is managing the contract (FA8650-08-C-6925).