Tim Ripley

In the aftermath of the remarkable escape of the Sukhoi Su-30 aircrew at Paris on Saturday, ejection seat technology suddenly acquired a higher profile, making recent experiments in the USA very topical.

NASA's Dryden research centre, the US Navy's Air Warfare Centre Weapons Division and the Canadian National Defence Headquarters recently undertook live ejection tests using a specially modified McDonnell Douglas YF-4J Phantom.

In one of the flights, Marconi Avionics Group was provided with the opportunity to test its Striker helmet mounted display (HMD).

The Striker helmet was fitted to an instrumented mannequin in place of the standard helmet to provide test data on dynamic performance when subjected to the violent forces of a 600kt (1,100km/h) ejection.

The test was conducted on 19 May at China Lake, California, as part of an assessment for a revised parachute canopy for the Boeing F-18 Hornet ejection seat.

The HMD successfully survived the airblast as the helmet, mannequin and ejection seat were propelled out of the cockpit and into the airstream.


"The Striker test is one of very few successful ejections and qualifications of a HMD undertaken at 600kt in a fast jet," says Marconi spokesman Ian Bustin. "The testing demands exacting performance for both ejection and survivability.

"This kind of testing is normally performed on a ground based rocket propelled sled. The opportunity to perform a live ejection with a helmet mounted display is very rare. This ejection test opportunity proved invaluable in confirming the protective features and designs of the Striker HMD family".

In the test, the rear seat "passenger" was ejected and the event was recorded by high speed cameras including one on an F-18 chase aircraft.

The test confirmed the operational and technological advantages provided by modern HMD systems, says Bustin. "The success of the testing also confirms Marconi Avionics' position as a world leader in HMD technology based around the Striker family."

Marconi Avionics provides HMD systems for a range of frontline aircraft.

Source: Flight Daily News