USAF tests Swiss developed liquid-filled anti-G suit
5 April 2000http://defence-data.com/storypic/gsuit.jpg [not image]
The US Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base in California is testing a new concept in aircrew protection, a liquid-filled, full-body anti-gravity suit being developed by a Swiss company, Life Support Systems AG.
Testing of the "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.
During 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 blackout. To counter the phenomenon, fighter aircrew use pneumatic (compressed air) anti-G suits. Using hydrostatic (liquid) force to regulate suit pressure, the Swiss anti-G suit could prove better than current pneumatic anti-G suits.
Life Support Systems has 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 compressed air. "Our goal is to provide total G protection for the pilot with a suit that can hardly be felt," Andreas Reinhard from Life Support Systems said.
In February, AEF Battlelab began an initiative entitled "Self-regulating Anti-G Ensemble" (SAGE) to demonstrate Libelle technology. The Swiss suit's potential advantages include a reduced need for positive-pressure breathing, reduced physical effort, improved ability to communicate under high-G conditions and no requirement for a G-valve.
"One of 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.
During the next few weeks, TPS students will flight-test the suit in both the T-38 and F-16 here. This will be followed by 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.
The AEF Battlelab on the SAGE concept demonstration is planning to produce a final report by August. "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," Diesel said.