Fighter flights were quite short operations at the time. For example, when the Finnish Air Force conducted legal altitude test flights on the MiG-21, the aircraft rose to full twenty minutes in seven minutes from the release of the brakes and accelerated to twice the speed of sound when using full afterburning, without external load.

Then the fuel warning light started flashing and the test pilots had to leave the tank. (At lower speeds and extra fuel tanks, the operating time was, of course, significantly longer.)

The ability to refuel completely changed the situation. The current mission profiles of the U.S. Air Force are as long as sixteen hours, which means that nature calls fighter pilots more than once during a flight.

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The problem is in the past settled for example, by collecting urine in a tube that allows it to be led out of the machine. Another option is to urinate into a bag that contains a liquid-absorbent material.

In the 21st century, a device that obeys the name AMDR (Advanced Mission Extender Device). It is a kind of cup designed differently for men and women, which contains a special urine sensor. When the sensor detects urine, it starts a pump that transfers the urine to a separate collection bag.

Several risks

Existing systems are somewhat impractical from the perspective of female pilots. According to the USAF this has led to a situation where flight crews resort to “tactical dehydration” to avoid urination.

This, in turn, is nothing to laugh about, as flying a fighter is a physically strenuous endeavor, and fluid loss is estimated to reduce pilots ’acceleration endurance by as much as 50 percent. In addition, there is a risk of other decline in physical and mental performance, such as loss of situational awareness, headache, visual disturbances, and loss of consciousness caused by acceleration.

Continued dehydration can cause kidney stones, urinary tract inflammation, skin irritation, and urinary incontinence.

Idea competition

According to the Air Force, developing a better solution will both increase the well-being and performance of female pilots and improve gender equality.

Thus, the USAF has launched a competition for ideas aimed at individuals, companies and public actors alike. The competition, called Sky High Relief Challenge, is looking for a technical solution or sub-solutions to make urination in a cramped cab as easy as possible.

According to specs, the solution to be developed will be e.g. to operate for 16 hours, it must be able to control a fluid flow of 22-46 ml / s and a total load of 3.9 liters. The winner (s) will be promised a maximum cash prize of hundreds of thousands of dollars and a long-term contract as a subcontractor to the Air Force, the Ministry of Defense and / or other state actors.

Deadline for performances is around mid-September, and the best suggestions will be invited to a showcase event in early November.

He was the first to talk about it The Drive.

The story was originally published In Tekniikka & Talous magazine.