Navy Upgrading its Aircrew Survival Vest

PMA_202_AE_vests1The U.S. Navy is working on an improved survival vest that’s designed to provide more ballistic protection for aviators while making it more comfortable to wear.

The redesigned Aircrew Endurance Survival Vest recently passed initial operating capability, a key milestone in the development of development of the life-saving equipment, the service announced in a Dec. 18 press release. The new vest is scheduled to achieve full operational capability by early 2016.

The upgraded AE survival vest provides improved ballistic-protection, superior load distribution and a new universal color for deployment in a wider variety of terrains, Navy officials said.

“Under the Aircrew Endurance program, the Navy will field a family of products all focused on reducing physical fatigue and stress during longer missions now being conducted by Navy and Marine Corps aircrew,” said Capt. Nora Burghardt, program manager at the Navy’s Aircrew Systems Program Office.

The new AE system resolves deficiencies existing in legacy aircrew survival vests and fields upgraded armor protection. Two configurations of the new AE system are being deployed, one for mobile aircrew and another for those aircrew who remain seated during flight. The AE mobile aircrew vest weighs 29.6 pounds and the AE seated version 19.5 pounds — about 7 pounds lighter than legacy AIRSAVE survival vests.

The new vest provides protection from shrapnel and bullets, the release states. The mobile crewman configuration provides an 80-inch tether connection to the aircraft allowing crew members to move freely about the cabin as they carry out normal duties. It prevents ejection from the aircraft in a crash and incorporates a quick-disconnection release from the aircraft during an emergency egress.

As a survival item, the vest provides locations to carry emergency-signaling devices, radios, medical kit, emergency underwater breathing devices and an inflatable life-preserver. In a rescue situation, the vest provides a harness used for hoisting the aircrew into a rescue helicopter.

About the Author

Matthew Cox
Matthew Cox has been a defense reporter since 1998 and is an associate editor for He traveled to Afghanistan and Iraq numerous times from 2002 to 2008, covering infantry units in combat. Matthew was an infantryman in the 82nd Airborne Division.

11 Comments on "Navy Upgrading its Aircrew Survival Vest"

  1. Well in this new kit you better have one forty-five caliber automatic; two boxes of ammunition; four days' concentrated emergency rations; one drug issue containing antibiotics, morphine, vitamin pills, pep pills, sleeping pills, tranquilizer pills; one miniature combination Russian phrase book and Bible; one hundred dollars in rubles; one hundred dollars in gold; nine packs of chewing gum; one issue of prophylactics; three lipsticks and three pair of nylon stockings.

  2. Shoot, a fella' could have a pretty good weekend in Vegas with all that stuff.


  4. How many heads has Maj. Kings quote gone over…….

  5. Not Dr. Strangelove | December 22, 2013 at 7:10 pm | Reply

    Sounds like some people need to watch the movie Dr. Stangelove. Good movie by the way; it’s a dark comedy classic.

  6. Wish I had this while I was flying in P-3's. There's missions where you spend the entire flight in Condition 5, down low. Pilot training flights were the worse. The vest really got old fast. The helmet…

  7. Needs a bottle of Stoly too..Combination Bible and Russian Phrasebook? Nylon stockings?

  8. I was a PR-2 back in the 60's and worked w/ a bunch of guys that flew the old P-2's. No Kidding, Me and another PR actually designed a vest VERY similar to this albeit the ballistic material part, but it carried all the same stuff and it only weighed a tad over 9lbs. I's like to know where they got the idea for this one? HMMMMMMM. Is nothing sacred?

  9. Ok with few dollars for the DoD this is waste of money why do we need pilots to wear bullet proof vests????? They idiots in the pentagon said the A-10 and its armor isn't needed in today's battle field? More lying for spending on crap sake. For most pilots even with a bullet proof vest I DO NOT recommend getting in a firefight after you got shot down. Your vest may be good but when against 50+ mad solders or civilians armed with AKs it wont make a difference. More crap from Brass who never been shot down.

  10. Well almost everyone got the joke, and how many times have I told you fellas no horsin' around on the airplane!?

  11. Fuggin Newbies…

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