Included in this hefty price tag are 72 specially designed helmets, which will cost $A533,000 per unit.
Commander of the F-35A Lightning II Heritage Flight Team major Will “D-Rail” Andreotta said the helmets were unlike anything ever seen.
“It is the only aircraft that has ever had the helmet made in conjunction with the aircraft,” he told Business Insider.
“We have so many systems and sensors on the aircraft, so as they were building the F-35 they basically thought about how the helmet would help.”
Weighing approximately 2kg, the helmets are fitted with a Helmet Mounted Display Systems (HMDS), which are capable of displaying a number of metrics on the visor.
Mr Andreotta said by showing airspeed, targeting information, altitude and threat warnings would offer unprecedented situational awareness for pilots.
“I have six cameras around the aircraft called DAS, and with a flip of a switch I can put it to my helmet and have a full 360-degree view of what I’m seeing,” he said.
“Think of Wonder Woman’s invisible aeroplane, that’s exactly what this aircraft has the capability to do because of the HMDS,”
“If a pilot needs to he can look between his legs and see through the aeroplane. That’s how extraordinary this aircraft is.”
The F-35 program has largely been met with controversy, with the most recent coming from US President-elect Donald Trump who said the “cost is out of control”.
Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne defended Australia’s choice of the jet, saying it was “the most potent weapon in the air”.
“We’re very confident that the Joint Strike Fighter is the right jet for Australia and for the United States and the rest of the world,” he said.
“Whether it has been efficiently managed from the United States’ point of view in terms of their cost and delays and so on is really a matter for them and for President-elect Trump’s opinion.”
This sentiment has been shared by Marine General James “Mad Dog” Mattis — Trump’s pick for US Secretary of Defence — who said the F-35 was critical for the air superiority of the US and its allies.
“It is equally important, if not more so, to some of our allies — let’s say more so because this will be the total fighter strength of their air force so to them it is an all-in sort of situation,” Mr Mattis said.
“So the F-35, the president-elect has talked about the costs of it, but he has in no way shown a lack of support for the program.
“He just wants the best bang for the buck.”
Army helmets could soon feature bone conduction comms
BAE Systems is in the process of developing bone conduction technology for use by soldiers on the battlefield. The helmet-based system will leverage the same basic technology as that found in commercial bone amplifying headphones, and should have the effect of allowing soldiers to hear comms over the loudest battlefield noises.
With bone conduction technology, sound waves are converted into vibrations that pass through the user's cranial bones, bypassing the eardrum altogether and transmitting directly to the cochlea – that's the sensory organ that is responsible for translating sound into nerve impulses for the brain to interpret.
The military-grade system will build on commercially-developed technology, integrating with a combat helmet in such a way as to place the comms unit just above the ear. BAE states that the prototype is no bigger than a five pence coin.
"We recognize that on the battlefield, auditory situational awareness is essential for armed forces personnel" states principal scientist Mohammed Akhmad. "With this system, the soldiers can safeguard their hearing with ear protectors whilst still clearly receiving military voice communications, to enable them to perform their roles efficiently and safely."
A prototype of the system is set to be displayed at the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) exhibition in London later this year.
British military kitted out with high-tech vests, augmented reality helmets
British troops could soon head into battle kitted out in the latest state-of-the-art wearable technology.
BAE Systems has created its Broadsword range of devices that revolve around a vest called Spine.
Spine uses so-called e-textiles to wirelessly charge military equipment - and this energy use can be monitored using a smartphone app.
Other equipment in the range includes the Q-Warrior headset and car seats that wirelessly charge the wearable technology.
Spine was developed by the London-based defence firm with Surrey-based Intelligent Textiles Design.
It can power up and transfer data to and from equipment such as radios, cameras, smart helmets and torches, as well as smart weapons - effectively working as a portable hotspot.
A total of eight devices can be plugged in and charged at any one time, and the vest's electrically conductive yarns can also be used to charge other gadgets wirelessly.
BAE has additionally created an inductive seat charger that automatically transfers energy from a vehicle to the vest.
This means the Spine never runs out of energy and can be charged as soldiers travel around battle zones.
And all this power usage can be managed using a smartphone app.
Elsewhere, the Q-Warrior see-through augmented reality display integrates with the Spine and smartphone to overlay useful information such as GPS locations, temperatures and other data.
BAE and Intelligent Textiles Design said that although the technology is designed for the armed forces - and conforms to the standards set by the Ministry of Defence - it could also be used by fire and rescue services and the police.