HYPOTHESIS: A newly developed hydrostatic anti-G suit is now commercially available. The suit is said to offer a high level of protection against +Gz acceleration. However, past experience shows that it is difficult to produce a hydrostatic suit with effective high-G protection. Careful testing is, therefore, needed to verify its efficacy.
METHODS: The G-protective properties of the hydrostatic anti-G suit (Libelle; L) were compared with those of a pneumatic anti-G ensemble (AGE-39) used in the Swedish JAS 39 Cripen aircraft. Three pilots were studied during vertical (+Gz) acceleration in a centrifuge using the following: 1) the L-suit with varied straining maneuvers; 2) the AGE-39 in combination with full anti-G straining maneuvers (AGSM) throughout each high-G exposure (full maneuver; FM); and 3) the AGE-39 in combination with AGSM during the initial part of each high-G exposure (reduced maneuver; RM). G-intensity tolerance was established during exposures to rapid onset rate (ROR) profiles with G-plateau levels ranging from +6.0 to +9.0 Gz. G-endurance was studied during simulated aerial combat maneuvers (SACM) consisting of 10 cycles of 5.5 to 7.5 G.
RESULTS: All three pilots tolerated 9.0 G with the pneumatic system both in the RM and FM conditions; their tolerances averaged 6.3 G (range 6.0 to 7.0 G) for the L suit. Thus, during the ROR exposures only the 6.0 G profile was completed by all subjects in all three conditions. At this G-load both muscle straining (as indicated by electromyographic activity in thigh and abdomen) and heart rate were higher in the L than in the RM condition. Mean arterial pressure at eye level was higher in the FM than in the L and RM conditions. Only one subject was able to complete the SACM profile in the L condition. In the RM condition all subjects completed the SACM profile and in the FM condition two subjects completed the SACM.
CONCLUSIONS: Whether the AGE-39 was used in combination with maximal AGSM throughout the duration of each high-G exposure or with AGSM only during the initial part of the high-G exposure, G-intensity tolerance was 9.0 G. While wearing the L-suit, G-tolerance was 6.3 G. Thus, under the conditions tested, the G-protection afforded by the L-suit is not adequate for use in a 9-G aircraft.
2002. Vol. 73, no 7, 703-708 p.