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The US Air Force is acquiring new technology that will make it easier to urinate while flying, especially for female fighter pilots. This could alleviate a long-standing problem for pilots who have to respond to nature’s call in cramped cockpits.
Air Combat Command will soon be able to provide the Omni Gen. 3 Skydrate bladder-relief device for the Air Force. Announced in a press statement Wednesday.
The new system features a larger bag and a variety of hose lengths. It also has an improved flow rate. The pilot can turn it on/off with one hand.
Last year, The Air Force began to search for industry sources for its Sky High Relief Challenge.It noted in its request that the service be discontinued “needs an improved bladder relief system that allows female aviators to hydrate adequately and relieve themselves during flight without interfering with operations or compromising flight safety.”
Global demand and aerial refueling have led to an increase in mission sortie times over the years. For example, routine flights in the vast Pacific theater can easily last more than ten hours.
Pilots who made those flights did not have the bladder-relief technology they needed. “The Air Force recognized that current devices were not optimized for long-duration sorties, and as a result, aircrew were routinely dehydrating themselves to delay the need for bladder relief,”ACC explained.
This was a major problem for pilots, particularly female ones, who the Air Force previously said would be fine. “resort to ‘tactical dehydration’ to avoid the difficulties and potential dangers of having to relieve themselves inflight.”
Dehydration can lead to a variety of serious mental and physical problems. These include a decrease of G-tolerance up to 50%, an increased risk for G-induced loss consciousness, cognitive and vision impairment, and a decreased tolerance to G-tolerance up to 50%.
You are also more likely to develop things like kidney stones, infections of the urinary tract, and other health issues.
Other than potentially causing harm to pilots, bladder-relief devices can also lead to aircraft losses. This was the case for 1992, when a Veteran F-16 pilot crashes fighter jet into hillsideTrying to relieve himself in Turkey
ACC reported that 30 female pilots tested the Skydrate system in hours-long wear trials at the Omni facility. Nine pilots were also involved in flight testing at three bases.
Sharon Rogers, the 46th Test Squadron’s lead engineer at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida explained that “this is a good example of using a ‘fly, fix, fly’ model to prioritize female aircrew feedback and speed up the testing process to field the device quicker.”Skydrate was developed and tested in less than a year.
Maj. Nikki Yogi was an F-35A pilot who took part in the testing. She had a bad experience as an A-10 pilot and had no experience with the current system. “should be focused on taking the fight to the enemy, not on whether their bladder relief device is going to work or be comfortable to use.”
The first Skydrate system shipment will arrive in the middle of this month and will be available to aircrews by spring next year.
The service is also exploring other designs so that pilots have a choice and can choose the best system for them.