HomeNewsArticle Display

Female fighter pilots test modified ATAGS “G-suit”

five pilots stand on the flight line

Five fighter pilots from various squadrons wear a modified version of the Advanced Technology Anti-Gravity Suit. The modified ATAGS, which is the latest advancement in female aircrew fitment, was flight tested at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. October 26-30, 2020. (U.S. Air Force photo by 1st Lt. Savanah Bray)

pilot steps into jet

First Lt. Elizabeth Pennell, T-38 pilot, steps into an F-16D Fighting Falcon while testing a modified version of the Advanced Technology Anti-Gravity Suit. The modified ATAGS, which is the latest advancement in female aircrew fitment, was flight tested at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. October 26-30, 2020. (U.S. Air Force photo by 1st Lt. Savanah Bray).

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AFNS) --

Five female fighter pilots tested a modified version of the Advanced Technology Anti-Gravity Suit Oct. 26-30.

ATAGS is a proven design and a critical life support item that protects aircrew members from the effects of high-G forces during maneuvers in fighter aircraft, but the ATAGS design, which has been in use since 2001, was developed primarily for standard men’s body types. Pilots who are shorter or have smaller or hard-to-fit body types often struggle to properly adjust the G-suit to fit well due to a limited range of adjustability in the standard sizes.

Directly tasked by the secretary of the Air Force, engineers and subject matter experts at Air Force Life Cycle Management Center and AFWERX set out to address priority shortfalls in female specific aircrew equipment and gear, to include ATAGS. Instead of creating a new product altogether, experts determined modifications could be made to the current ATAGS design to better fit women and various body types.

The two major modifications to the ATAGS include wider lacing panels in the waist, thigh and calf, which allows the suit to be easily adjusted for different body proportions, and the option for a “darted” or tailored, custom waist that does not reduce performance of the waist bladder that inflates during high-G maneuvers.

“In the past, some pilots with a shorter torso have had issues with ATAGS that were too large riding up and causing bruising on the rib cages, while pilots who are hard-to-fit may have had one size that fits through the legs, but need a smaller size in the waist,” said Charles Cruze, an AFLCMC Human Systems Division engineer. “Now, the waist can be darted up to 3.75 inches, allowing for a more custom and accurate fit, preventing both of those issues.”

To properly and safely test the ATAGS, the 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron executed nearly 20 sorties in F-16 D-model aircraft. During these test sorties, pilots conducted low- and high-G basic fighter maneuvers and specific profiles to allow for accurate evaluation of the modified ATAGS. F-16 D-models were used so that in each sortie, a pilot wearing standard ATAGS was in the aircraft to ensure safety should an issue with the modified ATAGS arise.

“For the purpose of this test, five pilots and one aircrew member tested the modified ATAGS, and evaluated it based on comfort and performance when compared to the normal ATAGS typically worn,” said Sharon Rogers, 46th Test Squadron lead test engineer. “Pilots were asked to evaluate based on not only the ATAGS during high-G maneuvers, but also during regular activities like sitting, standing, walking and climbing into and out of the aircraft.”

“As more women strap into fast jets to get the mission done, I think the Air Force is heading in the right direction,” said Capt. Brittany Trimble, an F-16 Fighting Falcon instructor pilot, when asked about her experience testing the modified ATAGS.

The pilots and aircrew who tested the ATAGS noticed significant improvements in comfort and functionality in the modified ATAGS.

“I definitely noticed improvement with the new updates and the darted waist in particular,” Trimble said. “I honestly didn’t expect to notice much of a difference because I’d never noticed significant issues with the ATAGS sizes before, but I was pleasantly surprised that these upgrades increased the ATAGS functionality significantly under G.”

The modified ATAGS testing is also a showcase example of developmental and operational test experts coming together to provide solutions for the warfighter. Prior to flight testing, AFLCMC conducted developmental endurance testing which simulated 14 years of use on identically designed modified ATAGS. Once those versions were successfully endurance tested with no issue, flight testing began at Eglin Air Force Base with the 46th Test Squadron, 96th Test Wing providing the engineering and test planning expertise and the 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron, 53rd Wing, executing the flight tests.

Following the flight testing, the 46th Test Squadron will provide a test report, explained Rogers. Under the current acquisition strategy, the modified ATAGS could be in the hands of fighter pilots and aircrew who need it within 12-24 months.

For Maj. Shanon Jamison, an F-16 pilot, testing the modified ATAGS was a great opportunity not only to help ensure pilots have gear that fits, works, and prevents G-induced loss of consciousness, or G-LOC, but also to connect with other female fighter pilots.

“It is great to see the Air Force bring female pilots together to test these new improvements, and it also gave us a chance to share our career experiences with one another,” Jamison said. “There are things we have experienced in our career that many of our colleagues cannot understand, from as simple as worrying about getting your hair caught in a harness to as complex as how to return to flying while juggling breastfeeding your infant. The chance to come together for an important test, while also receiving continued mentorship and leadership from the female cadre of fighter pilots, was both useful and fulfilling.”

Fortunately for Airmen across the Air Force, ATAGS is not the only gear getting modified or adapted for women. More information on female fitment efforts, like the security forces Airmen at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, who received a new body armor system designed for women, can be found here: https://www.aflcmc.af.mil/Units/FemaleFitment/.

“These tests are important because they will ultimately increase the lethality of those who no longer have their mask slip down during a sortie, their G-suit crunch under their waist, or the extra fabric of a too big anti-exposure suit get in the way of their movements in the jet,” Trimble said. “These don’t seem like big issues, but everything counts in the air, and having gear that fits and works as intended should be the standard. I’m excited the Air Force is working to identify and fix these issues, especially in innovative ways like provide AFE new modification options.”

Engage

Twitter
RT @HQUSAFEAFAF: #DYK the air terminal ops center (ATOC) at Nigerien Air Base 201 is responsible for air transportation ops including cargo…
Twitter
Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, researchers have been working as quickly as possible to crack the… https://t.co/srH7dpHM8k
Twitter
.@GenCQBrownJr & @cmsaf_official receive their #COVID19 vaccines. Prioritized @DeptofDefense personnel are highly… https://t.co/tAhlWH4BQP
Twitter
RT @cmsaf_official: The culture we need in our Air Force is one where we embrace diversity, value respect, and foster inclusion. Team Dov…
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: Talk about a year to be proud of! @HQ_AFMC #Bestof2020AF https://t.co/jyXWj9iWcY
Twitter
Combatting COVID one arm at a time. Airmen from the 133rd Airlift Wing received their first dose of the Moderna… https://t.co/tojuYTsqXn
Twitter
Training for the fight A 21st Special Operations Squadron CV-22 Osprey takes off during a training mission at… https://t.co/b3hWLilMl8
Twitter
RT @AFResearchLab: Our team is using the power of directed energy and the electromagnetic spectrum to give our warfighters the upper hand.…
Twitter
RT @AFResearchLab: The @usairforce Golden Horde Vanguard program completed its first flight demonstration of collaborative weapons last mon…
Twitter
Give @GenCQBrownJr a follow for the latest on how he's leading the charge to accelerate change throughout the… https://t.co/vef2RqG6oy
Twitter
Developing civilian Airmen The Department of the Air Force is providing developmental education, academic programs… https://t.co/md3EPKRWvM
Twitter
RT @AirmanMagazine: It's time to vote for Airman Magazine’s 2020 photo of the year! This annual competition showcases the men and women of…
Twitter
Mentorship As part of service-wide focus on #mentorship, the @AETCommand Mentoring Council will virtually host a L… https://t.co/SPyI9QWbeN
Twitter
🚧 🚧 CAUTION: Falcons at work 🚧 🚧 F-16 Fighting Falcons based in the @CENTCOM area of operations conduct armed ae… https://t.co/bJO9eInx9u
Twitter
RT @AETCommand: #COVID19 vaccines continue to rollout & the logistics and immunizations teams at the 59th Medical Wing are ensuring the dis…
Twitter
Rolling out the #Vaccine in the phased plan per @DeptofDefense guidelines. https://t.co/NvPYGfourn
Twitter
It is tradition for senior leadership to present Airmen with a coin for exceptionally demonstrating the #AirForce c… https://t.co/qYrBJDfBuI
Twitter
Give @GenCQBrownJr a follow for the latest on how he's leading the charge to accelerate change throughout the… https://t.co/xmiFBLktWW
Twitter
RT @AFResearchLab: @cubcrafters XCub aircraft made a stop in Dayton as it heads over to Maryland to help our 711 HPW test their LASH system…
Facebook
The newest Air Force Podcast recently dropped. Listen to a small snippet of CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright talk with Staff Sgt. New about resiliency. Listen to the entire podcast on Youtube: https://go.usa.gov/xpnAD or Subscribe to The Air Force Podcast on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/the-air-force-podcast/id1264107694?mt=2
Facebook
Our mantra, "Always ready!" It's the spirit we fly by! #B2Tuesday
Facebook
Need some motivation to get your week started off right? Listen as CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright weighs in...
Facebook
The U.S. Air Force Academy gives its cadets some unique opportunities. Ride along one of this opportunities.
Facebook
A United States Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-22 Raptor over northern Iraq, Nov. 6, 2019. U.S. Central Command operations deter adversaries and demonstrate support for allies and partners in the region. (Video by Staff Sgt. Daniel Snider)
Facebook
Although the Silver Star is the third-highest military medal, it's not given often. Today, TSgt Cody Smith was the 49th Special Tactics Airman to receive this medal since Sept. 11th, 2001. Read more of TSgt Smith's amazing story: https://www.airforcespecialtactics.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2024815/special-tactics-airman-battled-through-injuries-awarded-silver-star/fbclid/IwAR2LZWwx1VHdTnQe39rIEBOuJS_0JvMQBBGt7I-E6zsxxn-Lx9387yu43Bc/ Cannon Air Force Base Air Force Special Operations Command United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
Facebook
Tune in as our Air Force musicians along with other military musicians are awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Facebook
Like Us
Twitter
1,311,759
Follow Us