Let’s see the flight gear that makes this helicopter’s system operator look like a Stormtrooper out of Star Wars

Let’s have a look at the flight gear of a modern combat helicopter’s crew member.

The above image was released by the Marina Militare (Italian Navy) recently.

The photo is particularly interesting as it provides the opportunity to have a look at the flight gear worn by an SH/UH-90A multi-role combat helicopter aircrew member during a mission.

Maurizio Bressan, a flight gear collector and expert, has helped us identifying the various pieces.

Flight helmet: it’s a Gentex HGU-84/P, the same used by the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps helicopter crew members. In this case, it includes the Maxillofacial Shield (MFS) used to safeguard the wearer’s lower face from rotor wash, flying debris and windblast during helicopter operations, and to reduce noise in the microphone. The MFS has been introduced with the HGU-84/P recently, as it previously was only featured by the HGU-56. According to Bressan, the Italian Air Force HH-3F rescuers and operators extensively used this kind of protection during the war in Somalia, when they used the MBU-5 and MBU-12 (without the oxygen hose) to improve the quality of their comms.

Flight Suite: it looks like an American CWU-27/P.

Life Preserver:  it’s an Italian version of the LPU-21/P used by rotary wing assets since the late ’70s – mid ’80s. It contains some manually inflated air bladders.

Survival vest: it’s an Italian variant of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps SV-2B containing a HEEDS (Helicopter Emergency Egress Device), a backup oxygen cylinder that is needed to give the crew member some 3-5 minutes of air in case they need to escape the helicopter (even when upside down) underwater .

Gloves: Italian version of the nomex GS/FRP-2 with the peculiar white palms.

By the way, if you want to get more details about the Italian aircraft and helicopter aircrews’ flight gear you can find more information online on the website of the Italian Ministry of Defense.

Image credit: Italian Navy H/T to Maurizio Bressan for providing the details about the flight gear.


About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.