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20th FW AFE improves survival kits

Photo of Airmen with survival kit.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. David Smallidge, 20th Operations Support Squadron (OSS) aircraft operations shift lead, left, and Senior Master Sgt. Analie Tigert, 20th OSS aircrew flight equipment superintendent, stand by their updated survival kit at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Feb. 2, 2021. Smallidge and Tigert designed a new survival kit and prioritized current survival kit contents to keep 20th Fighter Wing pilots safe on the ground after ejection. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Ingold)

Photo of Airman packing survival kit.

Senior Airman Devin Schumpert, 20th Operations Support Squadron (OSS) aircrew flight equipment journeyman, inspects a food container at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Feb. 4, 2021. The 20th OSS kept the same amount of food and water in their updated survival kit to ensure 20th Fighter Wing pilots have the energy needed to successfully return to safety in the case of ejection from their aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Ingold)

Photo of Airmen packing survival kits.

Senior Airman Devin Schumpert, 20th Operations Support Squadron (OSS) aircrew flight equipment journeyman, left, and Airman 1st Class Jacob Patteron, 20th OSS aircrew flight equipment journeyman, pack survival kits at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Feb. 4, 2021. The 20th OSS redesigned their current survival kit layout to optimally meet 20th Fighter Wing pilots’ needs in case of ejection from their aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Ingold)

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. --

Airmen assigned to the 20th Operations Support Squadron redesigned their current survival kit and developed a draft kit to lead the 20th Fighter Wing into the future fight and to keep pilots safe on the ground.

“Pilot safety is always at the front of our mind,” said Senior Master Sgt. Analie Tigert, 20th OSS aircrew flight equipment superintendent. “We looked at every part of the survival kit to see how it enhances pilot survivability in every combatant command area of responsibility.”

The team used OSS units assigned to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Aviano Air Base, Italy, and Misawa Air Base, Japan, as a representative sample of potential environments 20th FW pilots might need to survive in.

“It was interesting to see the list of what we have installed compared to what other units have installed in their kits,” said Smallidge. “By constantly modernizing our equipment, we can help our pilots as much possible.”

Every piece in the survival kit was ranked by pilots and Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape specialists based on what they need to survive in a given environment.

“We kept all of the water and food but moved other equipment around or out,” said Smallige. “We decided to strap the flashlight to the pilot’s harness and provide extra night vison monoculars and battery packs.”

The team also drafted an updated pouch to hold the pilot’s survival gear and allow easier access to equipment on the ground.

Smallidge's team is in the works of designing the new container with a U-shaped zipper to allow easier packing and to decrease time needed to assemble the emergency weapon in a hostile contingency. Smallidge’s design is currently being reviewed by Air Combat Command for operational use.

“We want to get the pilot moving towards friendlies as fast as possible so they can evade capture,” said Smallidge.

Creating a superior survival kit means 20th FW pilots have the best chance possible to survive in the worst case scenario and return home safely. The 20th OSS AFE section plans to continue to build and develop their survival kit to ensure pilots stay safe and are ready to deliver F-16 airpower to combat operations.