Military Review

Aviation helmets of China. Copy? No, create!

Having the opportunity to copy a foreign sample, China will definitely use it. It is possible not only direct copying of the finished sample, but also its modification in accordance with its own wishes and requirements. In the future, on the basis of the accumulated experience and the proposed ideas, a completely new product can be created that has only limited similarities with foreign models.

Such processes can be observed in the sphere aviation helmets. Previously, the Chinese industry simply copied foreign designs, but now they are creating their own.

According to known data, the Chinese military and engineers use a mixed approach in the field of aviation helmets. The basis of the fighter aviation of China at the present time are different planes of the Soviet / Russian Su-27 family and their Chinese versions. The newest model of this kind is the Su-35 fighter, which went into the series a few years ago. At first, the Chinese Air Force was forced to use imported helmets or copy them. However, to date, they have received quite interesting products of their own design that meet modern requirements.

Aviation helmets of China. Copy? No, create!
TK-11 - one of the most common helmets in the PLA Air Force. Photo

As far as is known, Russian ZS-27APN helmets, as well as domestic TK-7A, were used on the Su-12 aircraft for a long time. At the heart of the TK-12A's own design was a fairly modified design of the Russian ZSH-7. While preserving the main features of the structure and the general contours, some technical and ergonomic changes were introduced. In addition, the “decoration” of helmets has changed over time. Bright white color is preferred to replace gray.

According to the Jinji Toutyao Chinese edition, the pilots constantly complained about the ZSH-XNUMHAPN helmet and its Chinese copy. In their opinion, such a product is too large and heavy. This fact worsens the working conditions of the pilot, including during vigorous maneuvering, when overloads increase the impact on the neck and spine. Thus, the air force needs a different protective helmet, which is very comfortable for the pilot.

Also, the foreign edition writes about the shortcomings of the Russian helmet associated with the use of modern additional equipment, namely, helmet-mounted displays and target designation systems. The products of the ZSH-7 line and their copies are equipped with a bracket for mounting additional equipment, but there is no possibility of its integration into the design of the helmet. This is not fully consistent with current trends in the development of aviation technology.

The pilot in the helmet TK-14. Photo

Having significant claims, the Chinese military still continued to exploit existing samples of foreign and domestic production. As far as we know, “uncomfortable” helmets were used and are being used even with the latest Su-35 fighters. However, several years ago, special measures were taken to improve the working conditions of the pilots. A number of new helmets have been designed to meet the new requirements.

Even in the past decade, a promising aviation helmet TK-14 was created. As follows from its appearance, the development took into account both the Soviet / Russian and Western experience, which resulted in the characteristic appearance of the product. From the ZSH-7 and TK-12A, the product with the number "14" differed in a different form of the body, which allowed to reduce its dimensions slightly. The light filter was placed outside the body, because of which it was necessary to install an additional curved shield above it. A bracket appeared on the dashboard of the type used on the ZSH-7AP. With a TK-14 helmet, it was proposed to use night-vision devices or a helmet-based target designation system. The latter, according to various sources, was created using Russian developments.

As a result, in their characteristics and capabilities, the new Chinese helmet was only slightly different from the existing Russian and Chinese products. However, it was not about direct copying of existing samples.

One of the serial helmets with mounted equipment. Photo

The next Chinese proprietary helmet was the TK-21. Outwardly, it was similar to the previous development. In this case, other materials and technologies were used, and in addition, the internal equipment of the helmet was different. The overall architecture, however, remained the same. In particular, the light filter was located outside the body and was covered with a shield. In several versions of the TK-21, a bracket for mounting additional devices could be placed on the panel.

Several years ago, at one of the Chinese exhibitions, a curious modification of the TK-21 was shown with a modified light filter plate having a set of unusual additional devices. The designers increased the dimensions of the shield: now its lower side parts reached almost to the fastener of the breathing mask. In the center, on top of the dashboard, they placed the body of the helmet-mounted target designation system. On the side surfaces of the shield protrusions were provided with light devices. According to known data, the latter were intended to track the position of the pilot’s head when using helmet-mounted target designation or another instrument.

To date, China has created new aviation helmets for fighter pilots with additional equipment that simplifies navigation and combat use. weapons. So, for the newest aircraft J-20 and J-31 developed helmet with an integrated display. The latter is distinguished by rather large dimensions, as a result of which the helmet received the nickname “fly's head”. There is reason to believe that the use of a helmet with a display will allow you to more fully realize the potential of a fifth-generation fighter.

Helmet with "markers" for tracking movements. Photo

Not so long ago it became known that the Chinese industry has developed another aviation helmet that is compatible with the existing technology. The PLA Air Force published photographs from recent exercises, in which the recently transferred China Su-35 aircraft took part. During the flights, the pilots used some new helmets, the existence of which was not previously reported. Soon the Chinese press found out that this type of helmet can be used not only with the Su-35. This product is compatible with other aircraft of the Su-27 family, including the Chinese development.

Unfortunately, the exact name of the new helmet remains unknown. In this case, the published images allow you to carefully consider a promising product and make some predictions. First of all, official photos show that the new Chinese helmet differs from some existing products in reduced size and other proportions. The designers again used the case with an expanded lower part containing the headset elements, and a narrowed upper volume corresponding to the dimensions of the pilot's head. Obviously, due to this form, they were able to reduce the weight of the helmet while maintaining the required capabilities.

One way to reduce the body again was the removal of the filter from its own internal cavity beyond the helmet. At the same time it is covered with a large curved shield. In the central part of the shield there are two large openings, which are likely to be intended for the correct removal of air flow. Bottom in front on the helmet there are attachments for mounting the breathing mask.

The pilot in the helmet with the display installed - "fly head". Photo

It is curious that in its recent publication on the topic of aviation helmets, the Jinji Toutyao edition managed to find some fastenings for the helmet-mounted display or targeting system on the new helmet. At the same time, it is not at all difficult to notice that the filter plate is made smooth, and the few protrusions on it are its own fastening elements to the body.

The Chinese edition indicates that the new helmet for the Su-27 / 35 is not only more compact than older products, but also has a lower weight. At the same time, the exact characteristics of such equipment remain unknown. The different forms of the external surface and the equipment allow us to assume that there is some difference in mass, but it will not be possible to accurately estimate it. In addition, it remains only to assume exactly how the new helmet reduces the load on the body of the pilot with vigorous maneuvering.

Recent ones news from China are of particular interest. The aviation industry, working in the interests of the air force, is creating several samples of new equipment at once. For the already existing 4 generation fighters, new products are offered with improved ergonomics. Perhaps the compatibility of the new lightweight helmet with additional helmet-mounted devices will be ensured.

Lightweight helmet of a new type. Photo

In parallel, the designers are working on the means of protection for the next generation aircraft. In this case, the requirements of ergonomics are also taken into account, but new instruments and devices are being introduced that expand the capabilities of the pilot and increase the combat potential of his aircraft.

Famous reports suggest that China has begun a program to re-equip the Su-27 family of new helmets, providing greater comfort to the pilots. If this is the case, then the industry will have to complete a very large order for the supply of a large number of helmets. The Air Force needs at least several hundred new items. If we are talking about refitting not only the Su-27 line and its derivatives, then the army will need more helmets.

According to known data, there are more than two hundred J-11 fighter jets of all major modifications in the Chinese Air Force. The Su-27SK and Russian Su-27UBK fighter fleet consists of more than 75 machines. There are also almost a hundred Su-30 fighters of two modifications. Currently, an order is being fulfilled for the supply of X-NUMX Su-24 aircraft, and most of them have already been transferred to the Chinese army. It should also be remembered that the front aviation of the PLA is armed with a significant number of aircraft of other types, which may also need new helmets.

The new helmet, apparently, does not have a bracket for additional devices. Photo

Published in recent years, information shows that the Chinese aviation industry is engaged in the development of not only the aircraft itself, their equipment and weapons. Particular attention is paid to the individual means of protection of pilots, equipped with communication systems and other equipment. The PLA Air Force understood that an aviation helmet should have not only a light filter and an oxygen mask, but also a surveillance, navigation and armament control device. All this is taken into account in new designs of helmets.

At the heart of the new Chinese aviation helmet projects are a few basic ideas, but they are used differently and in various combinations. As a result, almost all new products differ in reduced dimensions, but only some of them receive regular additional equipment. Another feature is the new gray color, which is believed to eliminate glare and does not unmask the aircraft.

A protective helmet is the most important part of the pilot's equipment, and for some time a component of the onboard radio-electronic equipment. The Chinese command is well aware of this, and therefore has long since launched an active development in this direction. A modern helmet, which not only protects and ensures communications, can, at the expense of additional equipment, increase the combat capability of the aircraft and simplify the solution of basic combat missions. Being almost unnoticed against the background of a large aircraft, a medium-sized helmet still matters a lot for combat aircraft.

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  1. Andrey Yuryevich
    Andrey Yuryevich 16 August 2018 06: 24
    Having the opportunity to copy a foreign sample, China will definitely use it. It is possible not only to directly copy the finished sample, but also to change it in accordance with your own wishes and requirements.
    - with which I congratulate China. learning is no longer necessary for him, but vice versa. and yes, China is already seriously scaring its development ...
    1. letinant
      letinant 16 August 2018 09: 00
      Let's wait. A large number of models of helmets indicates that they have not chosen finally, this is ONCE!
      Lightweight does not mean better, or maybe even the opposite (too weak), it is TWO. And THREE Chinese are GREAT masters to show off. Read about last year's "tank biathlon" how they made the record-breaking unit out of the tank and made it easier and still broke. Once again I say, wait and see, they try, GOOD MEN! And they fly in ours and ours. We are looking for information, we read, we analyze!
  2. Victor_B
    Victor_B 16 August 2018 08: 28
    Well done!
    Over time, more and more of their developments and technologies in all areas.
  3. K-50
    K-50 16 August 2018 09: 09
    Most likely, we also have something similar, only the speed of implementation of these latest developments leaves much to be desired and is in no way comparable to the Chinese one. sad
  4. Avior
    Avior 16 August 2018 09: 44
    The current trend in helmets is a helmet-mounted target designation system.
    With the appropriate missiles like R-73 or Python 5 gives the pilot huge advantages in close combat.
    The leaders of South Africa, Israel, USA.
    For the Russian Su and Migov, the NSC issued the Kiev Arsenal, on which they were created in the USSR — Shchel and Sura, delivered to Russia until 2014, and there were promising developments, including joint ones.
    After 2014, for obvious reasons, I had to use the NSC developed for the Yak-130, which is not suitable for the latest upgrades of the Soviet actually Sura with an indication on the helmet shield like Sura-ID.

    China has long been cooperating with Ukraine in the development of NSC
    In late October, Ukraine and China signed an agreement to expand cooperation in the field of optoelectronic and infrared systems. According to DS, behind this complex name lies the advanced developments of the Arsenal Central Design Bureau, involved in the production of infrared guidance heads for air racks and helmet-mounted target designation systems for military pilots.
  5. bober1982
    bober1982 16 August 2018 12: 14
    The protective helmet does not exert any load on the pilot, with vigorous maneuvering, no effect on the neck and spine - all the more so, so the Chinese pilots certainly exaggerate their problems.
    The ZSh-7 was designed for a long time, taking into account the installation of additional equipment on the helmet, which made it more overall than for example the ZSh-5, which, in my opinion, was just the perfect helmet. But in any case, the ZSh-7 is a convenient, modern helmet, and new Chinese developments are not much different from it. The Chinese changed their appearance, making it somewhat unusual, well, and artistic performance.