- The F-35 has smaller accommodations for pilot survival gear than previous aircraft.
- As a result, the first F-35 squadron to be based in cold weather has been working on a smaller survival kit.
- An accident during testing revealed the kit actually works at 25 degrees lower than originally planned.
A survival kit designed to keep F-35 pilots alive in freezing conditions has proven its worth all the way down to -65 degree Fahrenheit. The new kit, designed by the airmen that will fly with it under their seats, is designed to be smaller than previous kits while protecting pilots from the elements until rescue.
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter differs from older jets in one peculiar way: the space under the ejection seat is a third smaller than the same space in the F-16 Fighting Falcon. Unfortunately, that’s where the pilot survival kit goes. The pilots of the 356th Fighter Squadron will receive their F-35s in 2020, operating them out of Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska, so squadron personnel created a new kit using new materials designed to keep pilots alive in the Arctic cold.
The kit consists of hand warmers, a signal flare, packaged water, a dye marker, compass, hand saw, and other items. The new also required a super warm sleeping bag, one that compressed but still kept a person warm in subzero temperatures. The airmen finally included a sleeping bag made by Wiggy Industries of Colorado, which uses a synthetic fiber known as Lamilite. Indeed, the company sells a sleeping bag it says is rated all the way down to -60 degrees below zero.