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Navy Combat Edge 
by: Ron Kraan

This article appeared before in the Airforces Monthly may 1997 issue and is used with kind permission of Key Publishing Ltd. It is slightly altered for use on this web site.

The times when just a G-suit like the CSU-13/P was enough to withstand the forces of flying are long gone. The modern fighter plane is limited by the pilot's physical possibilities. To help the pilot to survive in the hostile environment of his own plane, new gear is being developed. 

The US Navy's Combat Edge system provides the tactical difference that will enhance the pilot's ability to withstand high G forces. It reduces the associated fatigue and minimize the chance of G-LOC (G-induced loss of consciousness). The system allows pilot's to fly more sorties and improve their operations.

The Gear
The US Air Force Combat Edge system was used as the basis to meet the unique US Navy requirements. The Air Force uses the MBU-20/P mask, the CRU-94/P oxygen block and the CSU-17/P counter pressure vest. The Navy then opted for a lower garment that offers a 40% increase in coverage over current G-suits. They developed a dramatically improved and reliable man-mounted mini regulator. They upgraded a new helmet that was, at the time, recently introduced into the inventory and proved effective during 600kts wind blast and ejection tests. This helmet being the HGU-68/P.

Since 1990, while in the developmental stages, the Combat Edge system was exercised in the Warminster centrifuge by a dedicated and intrepid subject pool. A few of them experienced forces of +11 G during this time and remained conscious. The ensemble was also worn and exercised by four Fleet squadrons (two US Navy and two US Marine Corps) during 1993. It drew favorable comments of the users. The Commander in Chief of Naval Operations decided to cancel the project, but it was brought back on line at the insistence of the Fleet.

Navy Combat Edge (A/P22P-16) provides tactical aircrew with an assisted pressure breathing for G (PBG) system for positive acceleration protection between +4 and +9 G to an altitude of 50,000feet. Below the +4 G threshold, the ensemble will function like the current CSU-13/P or CSU-15/P anti-G suit. The system components include an upgraded HGU-68/P helmet with a bladder, now named HGU-87/P. MBU-24/P oxygen mask, being a MBU-20/P with US Navy communications, CSU-21/P counter pressure vest, CSU-103/P oxygen regulator and CSU-20/P enhanced anti-G lower garment (EAGLE).

Further new introduction in to the US Navy, is the Navy Combat Edge Chemical/Biological/Radiation (CBR) exposure protection system. This probably being the follow up to the AR-5 CBR mask.

Source: Airforces Monthly


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