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AFLCMC delivers Integrated Aircrew Ensemble to 90th Fighter Squadron

U.S. Air Force Capt. Jon “Dexter” Keranen, a F-22 pilot assigned to the 3rd Operations Support Squadron, is outfitted by air flight equipment technicians with a newly received state-of-the-art integrated aircrew ensemble (IAE) flight suit and gear at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Nov. 9, 2020. The brand-new, custom-fit gear mitigates adverse physiological effects on F-22 Raptor pilots by reducing the thermal burden while increasing mobility and comfort. (U.S. Air Force photo by Alejandro Peña)

U.S. Air Force Capt. Jon “Dexter” Keranen, a F-22 pilot assigned to the 3rd Operations Support Squadron, is outfitted by air flight equipment technicians with a newly received state-of-the-art integrated aircrew ensemble (IAE) flight suit and gear at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Nov. 9, 2020. The brand-new, custom-fit gear mitigates adverse physiological effects on F-22 Raptor pilots by reducing the thermal burden while increasing mobility and comfort. (U.S. Air Force photo by Alejandro Peña)

Airman 1st Class Lauren Wickman, left, an air flight equipment technician with the 3rd Operations Support Squadron checks F-22 Raptor pilot Capt. Jon “Dexter” Keranen’s range of motion while outfitting him in a newly received state-of-the-art integrated aircrew ensemble (IAE) flight suit and gear at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Nov. 9, 2020. The brand-new, custom-fit gear mitigates adverse physiological effects on F-22 Raptor pilots by reducing the thermal burden while increasing mobility and comfort. (U.S. Air Force photo by Alejandro Peña)

Airman 1st Class Lauren Wickman, left, an air flight equipment technician with the 3rd Operations Support Squadron checks F-22 Raptor pilot Capt. Jon “Dexter” Keranen’s range of motion while outfitting him in a newly received state-of-the-art integrated aircrew ensemble (IAE) flight suit and gear at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Nov. 9, 2020. The brand-new, custom-fit gear mitigates adverse physiological effects on F-22 Raptor pilots by reducing the thermal burden while increasing mobility and comfort. (U.S. Air Force photo by Alejandro Peña)

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska – In an effort to improve pilot safety and comfort, the Agile Combat Support Directorate’s Human Systems Division is in the process of delivering the Integrated Aircrew Ensemble (IAE) to the 90th Fighter Squadron at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.

Designed specifically for pilots in ejection seat aircraft, the IAE is a custom-fit, multi-layer system of gear comprised of survival equipment and protective clothing. Depending on the aircraft, location, and mission, the ensemble can efficiently layer up to seven pieces of gear or components, while reducing bulk and improving aircrew mobility.

IAE components include life preservers, survival vests, pressure vests for F-22 pilots, and environmental protection layers in the event aircrew have to eject into cold water or into a cold, windy environment. The ensemble also has a chemical, biological, and radiological protection layer. Pilots are able to “mix and match” the gear depending on their mission and needs.

“The Integrated Aircrew Ensemble is the below the neck – minus the boots and gloves – solution for ejection seat piloted aircraft,” said Carl Medeiros, IAE Program Manager within the Human Systems Division. “If a pilot has to eject, they’ll have all of the gear they need to survive.”

Prior to IAE, pilots used a patchwork of gear, which in some cases dated back to the Vietnam War era. With new requirements and new aircraft, additional gear was added, which created unnecessary weight. In addition, the gear didn’t always effectively account for specific anthropometric needs.

“The thought here was to make a whole system,” said Medeiros as he explained the development of IAE. “So instead of piecemealing it, the thought was to go back and look at what we had and develop something that’s made to work well together, and fit well together so we could also reduce the bulk.”

One consideration in the development of IAE was reducing the thermal burden of the pilot.

“Thermal burden is a very big issue with them [pilots],” said Medeiros. “When they operate, they almost operate with a low grade fever. If we reduce their core temperature by a half a degree, that’s a significant improvement for them. Reducing body temperature will keep them a lot fresher, and keep them focused, so they can concentrate on the mission and put bombs on target.”

Medeiros’ team will be on base for several weeks, issuing the gear, fitting pilots, and training both pilots and Aircrew Flight Equipment personnel on its use.

All pilots in the Air Force’s F-22 fleet will have IAE by early 2021.