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.
The pilot would wear its custom adjusted harness on by slipping his legs through the leg loops and pulling it over his shoulders.
He will then hook and adjust a chest strap, then close the harness’ body material via two hooks and zipper.
The torso harness uses two sets of quick release fittings. Two upper ones connecting the parachute risers and two at the waist/crotch area securing the survival seat kit so upon ejection it would stay with the crewmember.
Fitted on the right shoulder straps a D (life)-ring provides to a possible rescue helicopter a solid point to attach a winch in order to lift the pilot to safety. Swiss AF recently replaced harnesses D-rings with an improved model.
Survival and emergency material is stored in three pockets sewn on the harness; two front elastic loops are securing a flashlight. If required, there is the possibility to install a gun holster.
The LPU-36/P lifejacket is fitted to the torso harness via sewed ribbons, snap buttons and two front plastic snap buckles.
In case of ditching, the lifejacket inflates automatically or activated by hand.
During its service life, different modification to the Swiss PCU-56 have been implemented, between others, a supplemental snap-on button in order to fix the pilot’s oxygen mask when not in use and, due to the damages discovered on JHMCS interface cables, (scuffed) the repositioning (left to right) of the Velcro hook patch which secures the harness’ zipper.
If required, a holster for the current handgun, the SIG Sauer P220 ("Pistole 75") can be fitted to the left side of the harness.