HGU-55 FlSt 17 SOLAS TAPED
As issued to F/A-18 Hornet pilots, this variant is equipped with a HA/LP-PPB oxygen mask featuring coiled communication cord Type CX-13126/A and AM-7067/A delta block amplifier, a coiled extension cable plus a 3 pin connector at the end of the hose.
Note also the typical Swiss AF boom mike bracket near the L/H oxygen mask bayonet receiver.
Owing to the fact that the Swiss AF is attending international exercises overthe North Sea, helmets are taped with "3M Scotchlite" or "SOLAS" (Safety On Land And Sea) reflective tape, thus enhancing the chance to locate a ditched pilot with the searchlights of SAR (Search And Rescue) units .
On top of the helmet a Velcro patch is applied in order to fit a survival strobe light. Its position on the helmet frees the crewman in the water to use his hands to operate the radio or other signalling equipment.
The patch is also used during flight simulator activity, holding a special targeting device.
This device selects the simulator display area the pilot is looking at, in order to have the targeted zone sharply focused, leaving the rest at lower resolution. This increases simulator computer performance.
A "Fliegerstaffel 17 - Falcons" emblem is applied on the rear of the helmet.
The HA-LP/ PPB Oxygen Mask
The HA/LP-PPB (High Altitude/Low Profile - Positive Pressure Breathing) is the oxygen mask in use today, with small configuration differences (mainly communication harnesses and connectors) on all Swiss AF aircraft and helicopters. The HA/LP-PPB mask saw introduction as the replacement for the MBU-5/P, fitted to HGU-55 and ALPHA 200 flight helmets.
The HA/LP-PPB features:
- Separate inhalation and compensated exhalation valves;
- Low profile silicone rubber face seal.
- Separate hardshell.
- Side entry oxygen hose to bring the mask center of gravity (CG) close to the face.
- Small mask face seal area, which seals on the supramentale (med.), i.e. between the lower lip and chin, rather than under the chin.
- Improved downward vision.
The mask provides a 600+ knots windblast protection and is applicable up to 60,000 ft while the low profile design brings the mask close to the face and provides stability during high G maneuvers.
All the Swiss AF HA-LP /PPB are fitted with a supplemental Valsalva valve. The valve acts as a secondary means to perform a Valsalva maneuver (“unpop your ears” for earthlings) when required, in addition to the standard method, which consists of pinching the nose shut while pressing out.
The HA/LP derivates from the US MBU-20/P “COMBAT EDGE” (Combined Advanced Technology Enhanced Design G Ensemble or “CE”) Oxygen Mask.
The “CE” mask features a bladder supply hose that connects the mask assembly to an occipital bladder in the helmet to provide automatic mask tensioning during high G flight.
In the early 2000’s, the SAF tested the above MBU-20/P configuration with the HGU-68 helmet, but evaluation was stopped due to SAF changes in operational philosophy.