July 23, 2013

New G-suit gives PAK-FA higher operational ceiling than the Raptor?

Russian Sukhoi T-50 PAK-FA pilots will be equipped with a new g-suit that will allow them to eject from the aircraft at altitudes of 75,000ft (23,000m). If the PAK-FA is able to fly at those altitudes operationally, that would mean that it has a significantly higher operational ceiling than the Lockheed Martin F-22 RaptorThe F-22 is limited by US Air Force regulations to 60,000ft because of the Armstrong Limit, which is found at roughly 62,000ft. The USAF never developed a full pressure-suit for Raptor pilots to wear; instead those pilots wear the Combat Edge ensemble, which counts as a partial pressure suit. Other fighters like the Boeing F-15 or F/A-18, for example, are typically restricted by regulations to 50,000ft (that includes the German Luftwaffe, their Eurofighter Typhoons, as one of their pilots told me, are also limited by regulations to 50,000ft operationally).
There are some very good reasons for those altitude restrictions. Above the Armstrong Limit water will boil at the same temperature as the human body. Basically, if you lose cabin pressure, you will die a slow and horrible death as bodily fluids (except those under pressure inside blood vessels) start to boil unless you have a pressure suit--like the guys flying U-2s (except they don't inflate those suits normally, which has led to problems in the past--but that's a whole different story).
IF the Russian Television story is correct--it could mean the Russian have developed a full pressure/g-suit that is capable of operating at those altitudes. Or they're completely insane--which is also a possibility I suppose.

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