In what marks a significant milestone for Survitec’s involvement in the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Programme, the world’s leading Survival Technology solutions provider has equipped its 2,000th F-35 pilot with Aircrew Flight Equipment (AFE). The 2,000th pilot fitting recently occurred at the Luke Air Force Base PFF in Glendale, Arizona, one of Survitec’s Pilot Fit Facilities (PFF) introduced in 2011 to support pilots operating the F-35 Lightning II.
F-35 pilots benefit from a unique 10-day perfect fit service involving a two-stage fitting and equipment familiarisation process where a range of anthropometric measurements are taken to select the correct size garments. The AFE consists of a flight jacket, flight coverall, anti-g trousers, immersion protection garment and other items. The equipment is supplied, fitted and adjusted at the PFF to meet pilot’s individual requirements within 10 days.
As the sole supplier of the below-the-neck ensemble to the F-35 programme, Survitec’s AFE has been tested and qualified to protect the pilot in all operational envelopes, including high speed ejection. An accurate fit is critical to ensure the garments function correctly, integrate with the aircraft life support systems and provide the required level of protection during all stages of flight.
David Stelling, Survitec Category Manager, Aerospace and Defence, said: “The Pilot Fit Facility is unique to the F-35 programme providing a guaranteed perfect fit service for AFE issued to all new pilots. The guarantee is that within ten days of being measured, the pilot will receive the correct schedule of AFE perfectly sized, allowing them to fly safely and fully exploit the power and manoeuvrability of the F-35. Well fitted anti-g garments are critical to ensuring the optimum level of ‘g’ protection reducing the need for physically demanding anti-g straining manoeuvres which induce unnecessary fatigue and increase the risk of G-Loc, which is G-force induced loss of consciousness,” he added.
With five F-35 squadrons to equip, Luke Air Force base is the busiest F-35 PFF in the program. However, there are also facilities in South Carolina, California, and Florida; and two facilities overseas with more than 10,000 F-35 pilots expected at programme maturity.
Nicholas Mulhall, Survitec’s Business Development Director – Aerospace and Defence, said: “There are 68 Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) pilots equipped with Survitec AFE, and they currently attend perfect fit facilities in the US. We are exploring opportunities to extend our perfect fit capability to other nations operating the F-35 platform, including Japan, to facilitate global demand for the platform.”
The JASDF selected the F-35 in 2011, ordering 42 aircraft. In 2018 as part of the Mid Term Defence Plan (MTDP), an additional 105 aircraft were ordered. Initial Operational Capability was declared in 2019, and there are currently two operational squadrons, the 301st and 302nd.