According to an article entitled Loss: The Royal Air Force Pays for a Heavy Problem published on March 2 on the US Strategic Page website, Martin Baker is the leader and largest supplier of ejection seats in the UK. However, the company found that the Mk16 series ejection seats used in British F-35 fighters faced another weight problem.
According to the article, the RAF found that some potential F-35 pilots were too heavy to use the Mk16 ejection seat. At present, the upper weight limit of Mk16 is 111.3 kg. This means that either some of the RAF pilots have to lose weight, or the Mk16 seats have to be retrofitted.
Over the past half century, Western pilots (the main users of Martin-Baker seats) have been gaining weight, with the ceiling rising by 25%. This situation has become more complex as NATO Air Force has encountered more difficulties in recruiting and retaining fighter pilots. Britain plans to acquire 138 F-35s by the mid-1920s, most of them F-35A.
The trouble facing Britain is a common problem, especially for the Air Force, which recruits female pilots. Although the recruitment of female pilots has become another solution to the shortage of pilots, it also complicates the design of ejection seats, which must be able to safely bear the pilotsvarious weights.
For example, in 2017, the U.S. Air Force accepted a modification of the US16E ejection seat used by the F-35A fighter. This modification solves another problem: female pilots weigh less than the lower limit of US16E seats. Since the problem was discovered in 2015, pilots weighing less than 62 kilograms have not been allowed to board F-35A fighters.
Like the cockpit in general, ejection seats are made to accommodate pilots of a certain size (in terms of weight and stature). The new F-35A ejection seat requires some expensive modifications so that it can safely and reliably accommodate pilots weighing less than 62 kilograms. In fact, any pilot who weighs less than 75 kilograms has a certain risk. Some American female fighter pilots weigh less than 62 kilograms and will be injured or killed if they use unmodified US16E seats. The Air Force is under tremendous political and media pressure to accommodate a small number of (mainly female) pilots at a high price. After improvement, the U.S. F-35 ejection seat is compatible with pilots weighing from 46.6 kg to 111.3 kg.
If Martin-Baker has to make another change to the Mk16 seat, the actual engineering change is not the main problem. The main problem is the time and cost required to verify the reliability of the modified seat.
The U.S. Air Force has always insisted on using only U.S. -made ejection systems, but the U.S. Navy insists on using Martin-Bakers ejection systems because the U.S. ejection seats do not work well at very low altitudes (in which many naval pilots may eject during carrier operations). Martin-Baker provides about two-thirds of the ejection seats for Western fighters, including the F-35.
Source: Responsible Editor of Reference Message Network: Yao Wenguang_NN1682