“Eye tracking; gesture control; neuro control; augmented reality – these sorts of things are being looked at,” says Bowman. “If we go to an extreme, there might be something like an avatar with you in the cockpit, potentially helping you with decision-making.”
The Typhoon and F-35 may offer the best clues as to what the fighter cockpits of the future will look like, but there is another aircraft which points an intriguing direction forward. The Reaper unmanned aircraft ‘cockpit’ isn’t inside the aircraft: the crew ‒ a pilot and a sensor operator ‒ sit in front of an array of screens in a ground control station, which may well be thousands of miles away. In the future, that remote cockpit might not need to be on the ground: it could be inside a fighter jet, with one pilot controlling their own aircraft and a number of other unmanned ones at the same time. This wouldn’t necessarily just be about gaining numerical advantage.