The US has started installing Arctic survival kits in the F-35A Lightning II combat aircraft deployed at Eielson Air Force Base in the state of Alaska.
The move comes nearly a year after airmen from the 354th Fighter Wing developed the arctic survival kit for the aircraft.
In April, the design of the kit was approved, following which, airmen started building them for the approaching winter season.
Specifically, the kit includes survival tools and equipment such as a knife for gathering food, a poncho to stay dry and flares to signal rescue teams. These tools will help pilots survive following an emergency ejection in challenging weather conditions.
354th Operations Support Squadron AFE craftsman US Air Force staff sergeant Ross Dugger said: “Due to the smaller size of the seat we are limited on how many items we can pack in here.
“Over the years, we’ve worked with [survival, evasion, resistance and escape specialists] to develop this kit and decided what is the most essential equipment needed to survive.
“It’s been a learning curve, with the seats being so new they are not as easy to pack. With time we will become more efficient and continue to ensure our pilots’ safety.”
The kit will be switched with the summer kit fitted with the seat. During the process, the team will also evaluate the seat for any anomalies to ensure safe ejection.
354th MXS Aircrew Egress specialist staff sergeant Victor Benitez said: “We are starting from the ground up, setting up systems and learning as we go.
“There’s a lot of components and sometimes it can take a long time to put just one bolt in, but it has to be done so that everything works 100% of the time.”
The entire Eielson F-35A fleet will be equipped with the arctic seat kits.