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Anti-G suit on 'Top 100' tech development list.

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AFMCNS) -- Popular Science magazine recognized an Air Force Test Pilot School-tested prototype anti-G suit as one of the "Top 100" technology developments of 2000. The magazine picked the gear, called Libelle, as "Best of What's New" In the aviation and space category for its annual special issue.

The test pilot students and instructors determined how it handled high-G stress. Unlike current anti-G suits that use pressurized air, Libelle uses liquid to protect fighter pilots as they make rapid turns and changes in flight paths, which Increases gravity forces on the body.

When this happens, a 160-pound pilot, in just a few seconds, can feel up to nine times his or her body weight, or 1,440 pounds. Consequently, just lifting a hand suddenly becomes a struggle. Increased gravity forces also cause blood to rush from the brain toward the feet, which, if not prevented, can result in impaired vision and even blackout. This is called gravity-induced loss of consciousness.

Current pneumatic anti-G suits and a straining maneuver assist airmen in eliminating these predicaments. Both, however, have drawbacks. Pneumatic gear requires crewmen to be connected to mechanical regulating systems that deliver compressed air via hoses.

The anti-G straining maneuver, a forced-breathing technique, calls for aircrew members to literally flex every muscle in their bodies, take a deep breath and then do a brief air exchange of exhaling and inhaling. This can be distracting, especially for a pilot focusing on a battle.

However, Libelle does away with one problem and significantly reduces another.

The self-sustained Libelle, which uses less than a quart of liquid and looks like a space-age wetsuit, does not need regulating mechanisms or on-board compressed air.

And as for the straining maneuver, Lt. Col. Michael Sizoo, director of plans and programs at the school, said while it still must be used occasionally with Libelle, it isn't nearly as strenuous or distracting as it is with the current anti-G suit used by the Air Force.

"Libelle allows you to focus more and can reduce the fatigue factor dramatically," said Sizoo, who flew Libelle test sorties in the F-16 Fighting Falcon and T-38 Talon and served as the program manager during evaluation of the prototype.

"Overall, there are some issues that must be worked out," Sizoo said, "but if I were to go up in air combat -- where you might have to pull and sustain 9 G's extensively -- I would want the suit," he said.
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Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:anti-gravity suit honored by 'Popular Science'
Author:Johnson, Ray
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2001
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