From the pilot helmet, through the pressure suit and to the escape equipment in case of ejection: all these fall under the responsibility of the SRE (Safety and Rescue Equipment). Meet the equipment that every fighter pilot takes off with
When the aircrews land on the runway after a sortie and walk towards the squadron, you can see the amount of equipment on their bodies: a pressure suit, a helmet, a parachute and more essential equipment which is there in order to promise that they will return safely from the flight and be able to deal with unexpected situations they might encounter in the air. With a bit more effort, if you would reach the cockpit, you would see additional equipment beyond the canopy which is always there and serves the pilots in the case of ejection.
All of these fall under the responsibility of the SRE (safety and rescue equipment) department which is regularly in all bases and whose function is to provide and maintain the complex and essential equipment. “Our position requires working 24 hours a day in order to save lives. No aircrew will take off for a sortie without his equipment being tested as required”, ruled SNR. SGT. MAJ. Eitan, commander of SRE in Hazor Airbase.
Its All in Your Head
Recently, the fighter jets division acquisition of HMDs was completed – the “Elbit Systems” helmets, which make the combat flying experience completely different. The HMD most significant advantage is that it displays the flight data such as height, speed and longitude, before the pilots’ eyes.
“The HMD significantly improves the flight”, noted SRGT. MAJ. Lital Garni, commander of SRE in IAF HQ. Additionally, the HMD is assisted by technology which provides the pilot with better orientationin the air. But the helmets most significant feature is its ability to control the aircraft’s weaponry, so that the aircrew in the cockpit can direct the missile to its target with his eyes and doesn’t need to move the aircraft’s “nose”. “We are happy that after such a long process, every fighter pilot in the IAF is equipped with a HMD helmet”, shared SRGT. MAJ. Garni. “We are now working on equipping every WSO in the IAF with these helmets”.
Building the helmet is a long and complicated process which consists of a few steps. First of all, the HMD division from “Elbit Systems” receive the helmet’s foundation which resembles a shell. Afterwards, they drill into the helmet and sew leather onto the helmet’s outline. Later, a sponge which serves as a noise sealer is added. Simultaneously with this stage, the aircrew member arrives for the casting of the helmet’s base so it will fit perfectly on his head. “We personalize every pilot from the Fighters and Helicopters Division’s helmet, in order to promise the best flight possible”, says SNR. SRGT. MAJ. Eitan.
The helmet isn’t the only unique piece of equipment aircrew combatants have with them. Every pilot or WSO which takes off for a sortie risks a malfunction or event which may cause him to eject from the aircraft. For these situations, aircrews have many pieces of equipment with the purpose of helping them survive the ejection – anywhere they might have to eject.
The “Life Vest” which holds initial ejection equipment such as a radio, arterial tourniquet and flares. Additionally, a floating pod intended to prevent drowning when ejecting over water is connected to the “Life Vest”. “The flotation pod is automatically activated in ejection and when touching the water, so that even if the pilot loses consciousness his head will still be over the water”, explained SNR. SRGT. MAJ. Eitan. In addition to the Life Vest, the G-suit (a suit which promoted blood flow to the head by way of pressure on the limbs and stomach) is also included in the aircrew’s personal equipment. The suit has six sizes and is personalized to the aircrew by a set of string and zippers.
The equipment assembled on the ejector seat of the aircraft is the floating equipment which consists of a personal lifeboat, a tracking device, 20 bags of water, a commando knife, identification colors for the case of lone survivor at sea, thermal clothes and energy snacks which contain 1200 calories each.
Photo by: Ayelet Eder