During the Southeast Asian conflict, a precedent of immediate rescue was established. The average period of individual, isolated survival for aircrew members that were rescued was 6 hours. The average time in the southwest Pacific during World War II was 48 hours in 85 percent of the cases reported. The marked reduction in times can be attributed to a number of factors, including aircrew familiarity with equipment, efficiency of air rescue and/or recovery forces, more effective communications devices, rotary-wing rescue vehicles, and most significantly, the prevailing low-threat air environment. However, in a future major conflict, the United States cannot expect to have the same air superiority that it had in Southeast Asia.
The United States now anticipates a sophisticated high-threat air environment with a wide spectrum of antiaircraft weapons. We can expect greater combat losses with more downed aircraft and aircrew members. The fate of search and rescue (SAR) helicopters and their support aircraft is in doubt against an enemy equipped with modern air defense weapons. Thus, U.S. military personnel must be prepared both mentally and physically for long-term solitude, as well as group survival, with all of the problems involved, until rescue can be effected.
The basic skills for survival have never changed. The will to live and survive is still the most important single factor in bringing aircrewmen home alive.
Today's survival equipment used by aircrewmen has been improved over the past 10 years to a point where, with a little common sense and proper instruction on its use, the aircrewman has a better chance of survival than ever before.
Until now you have inspected, tested, and packed survival items. Maybe on occasions you have been required to give a lecture on the use of survival items. As a first class or chief petty officer, it is essential that you be familiar with survival equipment and ensure flight personnel are trained in its use. The following manuals and instructions will aid you in your research for information about the survival environment and equipment usage. NWP 19-1 is the Navy's SAR manual. This manual describes all aspects of search, rescue, and the equipment used in rescue operations. The NAVAIR 00-80T-101, Survival Training Manual, is a recently published manual with which you may not be familiar. It describes the use of survival equipment and rescue devices carried by Navy aircrewmen and SAR vehicles. This includes electronic, pyrotechnic, and survival equipment, as well as specialized SAR rescue equipment. The NATOPS General Flight and Operating Instructions, OPNAVINST 3710.7, provides general information about minimum requirements for aircrew personnel protection equipment and training.
Most naval aircraft are equipped for and routinely fly over water; so chances are, a high percentage of our survival situations will involve the sea. All aircrewmen flying in naval aircraft have received training in water survival, and most are good swimmers. You will not be involved in teaching swimming. Your job is to instruct the aircrewman in the use of available survival equipment.
If you are to survive in the sea, you will have to remain calm and use sound judgment; panic will be your worst enemy. Mental preparation and practice will allow you to use your fear constructively. You should mentally rehearse your actions many times so that when you are forced to act, it will be from conditioned reflex. By the time you reach the water, whether by parachute or crash landing, you will know your situation and begin to apply established priorities. It is beyond the scope of this text to attempt to detail every survival scenario. However, you will improve your chances to survive in the sea, despite the variable factors such as environmental conditions, seaContinue Reading