AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AFPN)The
U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School here is testing a new
concept in aircrew protection: a liquid-filled,
full-body anti-gravity suit.
of the Swiss "Libelle" anti-G suit is a
collaborative effort by TPS, Air Combat Command's Humans
Systems Integration Division and the Air Expeditionary
Force Battlelab at Mountain Home AFB, Idaho.
hydrostatic (liquid) force to regulate suit pressure,
the Libelle, which means "dragonfly," in
Swiss, could prove better than current pneumatic
(compressed air) anti-G suits.
high-G acceleration forces, much of a pilot's blood is
pushed towards the body's lower half. In just seconds, a
shift in blood volume away from the brain can cause a
Capt. Aaron George in
the Libelle anti G-suit climb out an T-38 at Edwards
AFB. (Airforce Photo)
To fight such
potentially deadly occurrences, Air Force fighter aircrews use
pneumatic anti-G suits and the anti-G straining maneuver, said
Capt. Aaron George, project pilot and team leader.
"G-induced loss of consciousness, or GLOC, is rare due to
such countermeasures, George said. "However, high-G
continues to impact aircrew performance and GLOC has not been
That may change
in the near future if the Test Pilot School's latest endeavor
proves fruitful, said project engineer Capt. Shon Williams.
Working with Libelle's developer -- Andreas Reinhard from Life
Support Systems AG -- an Air Force team of three test pilots,
three test engineers and a physiologist have begun testing the
prototype suit here.
Systems and Reinhard have been developing the Libelle concept
for several years via centrifuge and flight testing with Swiss
and German air forces. The suit is based on a liquid concept
that does not require mechanical regulating systems or on-board
"Our goal is
to provide total G protection for the pilot with a suit that can
hardly be felt," Reinhard said.
The AEF Battlelab
learned of the suit through a suggestion by Col. Pete Demitry,
director of the ACC Human Systems Integration Division.
In February, a
battlelab initiative entitled "Self-regulating Anti-G
Ensemble," or SAGE, was begun to demonstrate Libelle
technology. The Swiss suit's potential advantages: reduced need
for positive-pressure breathing, reduced physical effort,
improved ability to communicate under high-G conditions and no
requirement for a G-valve.
Libelle's most valuable attributes may be its ability to
function independently, eliminating the need for a G-valve or
hose connection," said Lt. Col. Don Diesel, AEF Battlelab
initiative team leader.
testing here, the Libelle team traveled to Holloman AFB, N.M.
for a week of training and ground evaluations including egress
training, hanging harness and cockpit interoperability checks in
the T-38 Talon, as well as altitude chamber testing and multiple
centrifuge runs. Because Libelle's function is dramatically
different from the current Combat Edge ensemble used by F-15
Eagle and F-16 Fighting Falcon aircrews, Test Pilot School
members underwent extensive training wearing the suit in a
training we received at Holloman was superb," George said.
"We headquartered our operations at the base's
Physiological Training Flight, which became part of our team ...
and essential to our success. We departed Holloman with a wealth
of knowledge about how to operate effectively with the suit
during flight test."
During the next
few weeks, TPS students will flight-test the suit in both the
T-38 and F-16 here.
The next stage
here for the AEF Battlelab initiative: a more extensive look at
the Libelle ensemble this summer under hot environmental
conditions. The initiative also will assess the Libelle with
regard to projected cost vs. benefit of supply, logistics,
maintenance, training and safety.
A final report by
the AEF Battlelab on the SAGE concept demonstration is expected
"We plan to
complete the concept demonstration by this summer, and based
upon our findings, make recommendations on the technology to
senior Air Force leaders and the acquisition community,"
Source: USAF news