USMCs Maj. Aaron Frey, 461st FLTS, speaks with Jim Kristo, 461st FLTS, while seated in an F-35B on January 6, 2017 during tests of a chemical/biological pilot ensemble. [USAF photo by Brad White]
“Over a decade of planning, flight equipment and decontamination system design and build-up testing have led to this single flight test event,” said Darren Cole, 461st FLTS Human Systems Integration lead.
The chemical/biological ensemble consists of a special CB suit, a Joint Service Aircrew Mask used for the F-35, a pilot-mounted CB air filter, CB socks and gloves double taped at the wrists. The ensemble also features a filtered air blower that protects the pilot from CB contamination while walking to the jet. It provides both breathing air and demist air, which goes to the pilot’s mask and goggles. All components of the CB ensemble are in addition to the pilot’s sleeved flight jacket and G suit.
“Among the data we’re collecting is how much thermal stress is added to the pilot with the CB ensemble on and the impact the additional gear may have on flying the aircraft,” Cole said.
The ensemble also includes a communication device so the pilot can speak to people while wearing the ensemble with helmet and mask.
“It is a conversational communication unit, which is a box that integrates with the communication system so that when he speaks into his mask it lets people hear the pilot talk… it makes him sound like Darth Vader.”
For the CB ensemble tests, an F-35B is on loan from Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona. Marine Corps test pilots Maj. Aaron Frey and Maj. Douglas Rosenstock from the 461st FLTS donned the CB ensemble for the first tests Jan. 6.
“The first pilot stepped to a clean jet in the CB ensemble and we contaminated it using a simulated agent. The engine run pulls in the simulant…