Article by Flight Global
Martin-Baker is showing its candidate ejection seat for the US Air Force’s T-X trainer for the first time at a major show, with the Mk18 design also to be the basis for offers to equip future fighters and upgrade in-service types.
Developed using the UK company’s experience gained from designing and producing the US16E seat for Lockheed Martin’s F-35, the new product matches the USAF’s requirement to accommodate pilots with an unclothed weight of between 46.7-111kg (103-245lb). But the lighter-weight design incorporates enhancements including updated neck protection, passive arm restraints and a rocket motor that can be rotated for pitch control during the ejection sequence.
“Sled testing will be continuing through the second half of this year,” says head of programmes Geoff Barnes, who adds that a critical design review for the Mk18 will be conducted before year-end. M-B expects the new design to undergo qualification during 2018.
Barnes says M-B is in discussion with all three bidders for the T-X requirement, and that the Mk18 will be adapted to meet their needs in areas such as integrating on- or off-seat oxygen generation systems. The USAF is expected to choose between the Boeing/Saab T-X, Leonardo DRS T-100 and Lockheed/Korea Aerospace Industries T-50A early in 2018, with 346 aircraft to be acquired as replacements for its Northrop T-38C trainers.
The Mk18 design also is already on offer for South Korea’s developmental KF-X fighter, and could also be suitable for other products including Turkey’s future TF-X.
“We expect it to be our benchmark seat of the future,” says Barnes. “For anything fast jet, this will be the product of choice.”
M-B director of business development and marketing Andrew Martin says the Mk18 is also being promoted to meet a major requirement to replace the ejection seats on multiple older types flown by the USAF. The next-generation escape system will be installed on the Boeing B-1B and F-15, Fairchild Republic A-10 and Lockheed F-16 and F-22.
The exclusive ejection seat supplier for the multinational F-35 programme, M-B has now delivered more than 300 of its US16E system.
The company says its ejection seats have so far saved the lives of 7,543 pilots around the world. The most recent of these escaped from a Greek air force Dassault Mirage 2000 on 29 May, after the fighter suffered engine failure.