The A-7 Attack Jet's Head Up Display Was A Revolution In Air Combat Tech


Lorenzo von Matterhorn
Jan 31, 2009
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I didn't know this very significant piece of military aviation history.

The A-7 Attack Jet's Head Up Display Was A Revolution In Air Combat Tech
It was the first use of a true Head Up Display on a U.S. combat aircraft and historic videos show just how it worked and how much they got right.
JUNE 27, 2020

The Ling-Temco-Vought A-7 Corsair II wasn't sexy, it looked like a fat version of the F-8 Crusader from which it drew its lineage, but it sure was smart. It featured a slew of advanced avionics that would make its single pilot's job easier and their attacks far more precise. One of these features was central to the leap in combat capabilities the stubby aircraft represented—the Head Up Display (HUD).

The A-7 was the first operational American combat aircraft to get a fully instrumented HUD as we understand the concept today. This new addition was a monumental revolution in technology that changed air combat forever.

Before the A-7, tactical jets were receiving increasingly complex holographic gunsights with simple symbology, but nothing was tied directly to computers that worked to present all the key weapons delivery and primary flight information right up in front of the pilot's eyes as they peered through the windscreen.

Looking back at the A-7's AN/AVQ-7(V) HUD, which was made by Elliott Flight Automation along with Marconi, it is amazing what they pulled off in the mid-1960s. Much of the HUD's general layout and symbology is still in use today, and just how deeply integrated the HUD was with the jet's radar, navigation, and other systems is absolutely remarkable. Flight data 'tapes,' velocity vector, pitch ladder, steering cues, targeting points, bomb azimuth guides, AoA E-bracket, and much more are all there, just as they remain on so many tactical aircraft HUDs today.