Lightweight pilots to fly with F-35 April 20, 2016

The first test of a new, lightweight F-35 helmet was successful, according to the program office. Even though it seems to be a minor issue at first glance, this is a promising sign that the Pentagon can move forward to fix F-35’s escape system by the end of the year. On March 31 at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, Lockheed Martin's F-35 conducted a test with a new light helmet design that weighs about 4.63 pounds to reduce the risk of neck injury to F-35 pilots during seat ejection. The recent sled test, conducted with a 103-pound mannequin, allowing the military services to lift restrictions on lightweight pilots flying the F-35. Last year, pilots less than 136 pounds were barred from flying the F-35s after testers discovered an increased risk of neck damage to lightweight pilots ejecting from the plane. The US Air Force has also acknowledged an “elevated level of risk” for pilots between 136 and 165 pounds. The prototype helmet tested last month is approximately 6 ounces lighter than the original Gen III helmet. The lighter helmet expected to be fielded by the end of the year.

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Lightweight pilots to fly with F-35

Issue 79