The £44 million project is used by fast jet pilots in the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force to replicate flight in aircraft such as the Hawk, Typhoon and new F-35 Lightning aircraft.
Pilots are able to experience up to 9G – nine times the normal gravitational pull of the Earth – and learn how to use their specialist in-cockpit flying equipment to help them cope with these stresses.
The centrifuge can accelerate up to 9G in one second and rotate up to 34 times a minute.
The new facility revolutionises High-G training as pilots are not simply strapped into the device and exposed to G-force but are able to ‘fly’ as they would in a flight simulator as the pilot manoeuvres the aircraft and applies the G-force.
Enhancing air safety
Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal, Sir Stephen Hillier said: “I am delighted to see our new High-G Training Facility opened today and to be able to mark this step-change in how we train our pilots. By exposing our Typhoon, Lightning and Hawk pilots to High-G forces in a tailor-made and completely controlled environment, we are significantly enhancing safety in the air and making a major contribution to our operational effectiveness. Today represents another major milestone in the RAF’s impressive modernisation programme.”
Pilots benefit from a cockpit which closely represents that of their normal aircraft enabling them to conduct a plethora of training scenarios from air-to-air combat to dealing with inbound missile threats.
The device will also be used to trial and test new equipment to be used on fast jet aircraft and by the pilots. This will also ensure that the testing is done in a benign environment before being trialled in live flight.
Thales teams up
The 39-tonne centrifuge is built by Thales UK, and has seen the company team up with centrifuge specialists AMST from Austria to design and build the equipment. Thales has been training RAF aircrew since the 1930s providing over 300 complex simulators for 60 different platforms.
Thales UK Chief Executive Officer, Victor Chavez said: “Only 24 months ago we cut the turf to set this project on its way, so to see the centrifuge in full operation is a testament to great collaborative working from Thales, DE&S [Defence Equipment & Support] and the RAF.
“The High-G Training and Test Facility is our next exciting chapter in this long-standing training partnership with the RAF.”