Aerial Warfare

US Air Force Life Cycle Management Center Upgrades Eye Protection for Aircrew

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US Air Force Life Cycle Management Center Upgrades Eye Protection for Aircrew

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US Air Force Life Cycle Management Center Upgrades Eye Protection for Aircrew
US Air Force Life Cycle Management Center Upgrades Eye Protection for Aircrew

The U.S. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s Human Systems Division is in the process of upgrading protective eyewear for aircrew operating various U.S. Air Force aircraft around the world.Comprised of eight different devices and known as the Block 3 family of products, the eyewear will provide protection from laser threats and introduces a combined laser and ballistic protection capability for the first time.?Eyewear devices include separate day and night spectacles, ballistics spectacles, and visors designed to integrate with night vision goggles. The devices will be available for all aircrew except for those operating U-2 and F-35 Lightning II aircraft. The type of eyewear protection aircrew will receive will depend on the mission.

“If flying low and slow or hovering like a helicopter or CV-22 Osprey, aircrew would prefer to have ballistic protection as well as laser protection. However, if you’re in a fighter aircraft or flying in a bomber at high altitude, the chances of you needing ballistic protection are not nearly as high. We also worked with the U.S. intelligence community which provided an assessment of the threats facing aircrew members,” Beer said. “We used that information to determine what we needed to protect against and which eyewear protection technologies we needed to pursue,” said Mark Beer, Aircrew Laser Eye Protection Program deputy program manager.

511 Tactical

“The health of the eye is so important to our pilots. The consequences of getting lasered without having proper protection could not only prevent the pilot from flying and landing an aircraft safely, but it could also cost them their career. So, our goal is to ensure the right eyewear is available to everyone. We’ve worked very closely with the?Air Force Research Laboratory?on this effort. They [AFRL] were instrumental in the pre-engineering manufacturing and development phase and experiments with dye and filter technologies,” said Capt. Pete Coats, lead program manager for the Human System’s Division’s Aircrew Laser Eye Protection Program.

Along with improved protection, the night eyewear will allow more natural light through the lens increasing visibility for crew members.?A key part of developing the eyewear has been partnerships with stakeholders. More than 42,000 devices will be fielded to Air Force units by 2027. The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC), headquartered at Wright-Patterson AFB, was designed to provide a single face and voice to customers, management of weapon systems across their life cycles, and to simplify and consolidate staff functions and processes to curtail redundancy and enhance efficiency. In addition, AFLCMC’s operating structure provides a framework for decision making and process optimization across the weapon system life cycle.

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