SWISS AF LIFE VESTS & HARNESSES 1985 -
The BFA (Ballon Fabrik Augsburg) Loadmaster Life Vest configured as tested.
With a number of modification this garment became the model PU-CH-01 which is in service today.
By the end of the ’90, the standard Swiss AF F/A-18 ejection seat configuration requiring torso harness was deemed by the crews unsatisfactory in regards to harness adaptability and discomfort during air combat manoeuvring.
A modification of the ejection seat was implemented including the installation of a so-called “Simplified Combined Harness” which required a new life vest.
The selected model was the Lifeguard LG1566.
The "armasuisse" life vest was a proposal made in the mid-2000s by RFD Beaufort to the Swiss AF procurement agency (armasuisse/ ar), who was looking for a life vest to equip the PC-6/7/9/21 and F-5 crews.
Unfortunately, we do not know whether the RFD Beaufort vest was ever actually flight tested; indeed, the life vest that entered service was the BFA PU-CH-07.
The PU-CH-07 replaced the LG-1073 A and is in use today. Available in two versions, with automatic or manual activation.
The auto version is provided to pilots flying aircrafts equipped with ejection seats, as the F-5 E, Pilatus PC-9 ( till end of 2022) and -21; the manual one to PC-6/ -7 crews.
The PU-CH-01 is used on helicopters and exists in two versions, for pilot and loadmaster. The latter additionally is fitted with a specific configured safety harness provided with quick release system.
The helo pilot version, although rarely, can also be used on fixed-wing (propeller) aircraft, as the PC-7.
The MA-2 integrated parachute-restraint harness, also known as the integrated torso harness suit, integrates the aircrew member’s parachute harness, lap belt assembly, and shoulder restraint harness.
The parachute harness is reeved through the torso suit to retain it in a position to make it easier to put on and take off. The MA-2 was the standard equipment of Swiss AF F-18 pilots at the beginning of Hornet's operations, at the end of the '90.
The Swiss Air Force PCU-56/P Torso Harness used on F-18 consists of a nylon webbing framework designed for wear by aircrew aboard an aircraft in which the parachute is installed in the ejection seat; the US Navy being the first after the WWII to employ them on their aircraft because of the danger of crews walking across the carrier deck and getting blown overboard if the back parachute accidentally deployed.