RAF pilots to use Thales High-G training facility at RAF Cranwell in UK

Talal Husseini 4 February 2019 (Last Updated February 4th, 2019 11:35)

A new High-G training facility at RAF Cranwell in the UK will help fighter jet pilots train under more realistic simulated flight conditions.

RAF pilots to use Thales High-G training facility at RAF Cranwell in UK
The Royal Air Force has installed a new High-G training centre at RAF Cranwell, designed to help trainee pilots learn how to operate under strong gravitational forces. Credit: Thales UK.

A new High-G training facility at RAF Cranwell in the UK will help fighter jet pilots train under more realistic simulated flight conditions.

The £44m facility, which will be used by RAF and Royal Navy jet pilots, replicates flight conditions in fast jet fighter aircraft such as the F-35, Hawk and Typhoon.

Pilots in training will experience up to nine times the earth’s gravitational pull (9G) and learn how to operate the cockpit under such pressure.  Thales’ centrifuge can reach 9G in one second and makes 34 rotations per minute.

Thales UK vice-president for avionics Stephen McCann told Air Force Technology: “Previously pilots would have just gone round and round in a centrifuge simply experiencing the G, which is not as effective as it could be from a training perspective.

“With this new device, they will experience cockpits that are very close to the real thing. The equipment was designed to give the RAF the highest safety capability for their aircrew.”

Using the specialised cockpit, trainee pilots can conduct many more training scenarios to help them get used to air-to-air combat, and can learn how to deal with threats such as incoming missiles.

The High-G training facility also allows for the RAF to test new aircraft equipment for jets before conducting a live flight trial.

RAF Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier opened the new High-G training facility at RAF Cranwell.

"With this new device, they will experience cockpits that are close to the real thing. The equipment was designed to give the RAF the highest safety capability for their aircrew."

Hillier said:  “I am delighted to see our new High-G training facility opened today and to be able to mark this step-change in how we train our pilots.

“By exposing our Typhoon, Lightning and Hawk pilots to High-G forces in a tailor-made and completely controlled environment, we are significantly enhancing safety in the air and making a major contribution to our operational effectiveness. Today represents another major milestone in the RAF’s impressive modernisation programme.”

In order to stay as safe as possible, RAF pilots refresh their training every five years and the High-G training facility will help pilots to learn the techniques needed to operate under the pressure of high-gravitational forces.

Thales UK built the 39t centrifuge along with Austrian specialist AMST. The company has been training RAF pilots since the 1930s and has provided more than 300 training simulators across 60 platforms.

Thales UK CEO Victor Chavez said: “Only 24 months ago we cut the turf to set this project on its way, so to see the centrifuge in full operation is a testament to great collaborative working from Thales, DE&S and the RAF.

“The High-G training and test facility is our next exciting chapter in this long-standing training partnership with the RAF.”