Pedia News

Modern-Day Tech

Modern-Day Tech
Ever since the Messerschmitt Me 262, nicknamed the Swallow, first took flight in World War II, the jet age has seen fighter-plane technology soar. One key difference between the fighters of today and their ancestors is the need for flexibility. While warplanes were previously designed for specific tasks – such as fighter bombers, escort, or reconnaissance – today’s aircraft are expected to perform a range of roles, even simultaneously. For example, the Eurofighter Typhoon carries over a dozen brackets under its fuselage. This enables it to carry any combination of air-to-air or ground-attack armament, or extra fuel pods for prolonged sorties, fulfilling the potential for every combat role.

With machines becoming ever faster and weapons systems leaving little to no room for error, even the lightning reactions of the hardiest flying maverick would struggle to last five minutes of air combat – that is, without the aid of computer technology. Though it goes without saying the role of a pilot still demands incredible levels of skill, endurance, multitasking and quick reactions under pressure, the onboard computer is now an essential component of any fighter plane.
The heads-up display (HUD), iconic from films such as Top Gun, was among the most important electronic upgrades to the cockpits of fighter jets. It relays target tracking, sensor, navigation and other data direct to the pilot. The HUD computer is connected to all the external and internal sensors of the aircraft, so it’s able to collate, prioritise and even give guidance based on this data. This has enabled pilots to quickly engage various threats, enact countermeasures and even land safely, all while keeping two eyes firmly focused on the danger zone.
Though within the last few decades fighter technology has leapt several generations, in step with the growing capabilities of computers, the principles of assisting pilot operation have remained the same. For example, the Human Machine Interface (HMI) and Flight Control System (FCS) of the Eurofighter accommodates voice input/ output controls, Autopilot, Autothrottle and Flight Director Modes, all to assist handling. In addition, its latest generation of radar is able to identify and prioritise threats. With all this, it’s no wonder fighter pilots still feel a special bond with these incredible machines.