Martin-Baker Aircraft Co. Ltd (MBA) is the world's longest established and most experienced manufacturer of ejection seats and related survival equipment. Ejection is obviously a last resort for aircrew; over 7,400 aircrew owe their lives to Martin-Baker equipment and a staggering 1 in 10 of the ejection seats manufactured to date have saved a life. Every facet of the safety system from initiation, escape path clearance, ejection sequencing, stabilisation, life support, parachute descent to final rescue, must work perfectly to safeguard a precious life. The aircrew must also reach the ground uninjured, especially in a hostile environment, if they are to have the best possible chance of survival and recovery.

Martin-Baker was selected in August 2000 for the F-35 because of its demonstrable ability to offer a fully integrated escape system, that satisfies the very latest in aircrew operational capability and safety standards offering a complete 'end-to-end service' from helping the customer to establish operational safety and escape requirements, design, development and qualification, to ongoing support throughout the entire service life of the aircraft.

The System Development & Demonstration (SDD) ejection seat that Martin-Baker proposed to Lockheed Martin is a further development of the Mk16 range that has already been successful for the Beechcraft T-6 Texan II (JPATS), the Eurofighter Typhoon, the NASA T-38 upgrade programme and other numerous aircraft platforms around the world.

For SDD, the ejection seat (common to all 3 F-35 aircraft variants) is known as the US16E and will provide an unprecedented balanced optimisation, between key performance parameters such as safe terrain clearance limits, physiological loading limits, pilot boarding mass and accommodation (the widest aircrew population on record), to fully meet the F-35 Escape System requirements.

The US16E’s prime structural elements comprise the well established twin catapult arrangement that is housed in a side-rail arrangement, and a 19.5” wide seat bucket that is based on the NASA T-38 design to ensure accommodation of the larger aircrew. The seat design is highly modularised and provides ease of seat removal with the canopy in-situ. The Seat is lightweight whilst at the same time providing a 30gx crash and egress capability.

SDD has introduced other challenging technical performance requirements. The adoption of the Helmet Mounted Display (HMD) as the prime means of flight data display (“virtual HUD”) for the extended aircrew population has introduced unprecedented head and neck load requirements, whilst an auto-eject system has been introduced to counter the lift-fan failure condition for the F-35B STOVL aircraft.

During the first 48 months of the SDD programme, Martin-Baker will develop the ejection seat system and all its related components and sub-systems, culminating in the delivery of 13 Flight Seats for the SDD flight development aircraft. The subsequent 78 months between System Development & Demonstration (SDD) first flight and FRIP (Full Rate Production) will be spent maturing the overall escape system, supporting the flight development aircraft and preparing for FRIP.

Martin-Baker's continued success is intricately associated with the performance and quality of its suppliers. The forty three UK suppliers involved on the JSF SDD Programme are listed as follows:

Advanced Composities Ltd
Airborne Systems Ltd
Amsafe Bridport Technical Fabrics Ltd
A One Precision Ltd
Chemring Energetics Ltd
Clayton Engineering Ltd
Dereham Design Ltd
Deutsch Ltd
Doig Springs Ltd
Double M Engineering Ltd
FGP Engineering
FHL Claverham Ltd
Foam Engineers Limited
Gase Marine Engineering Ltd
Goss Components Ltd
Hardigg UK Ltd
Hydramec Ltd
Interface Artworks Ltd
Icon Polymer Ltd
Itel Electronics Ltd
James White Engineering Ltd
Langford Lodge Engineering Ltd
Leemark Engineering Ltd
Loftlock Engineering Ltd
Manufactured Engineering Plastics Ltd
Micrometalsmiths Ltd
Missiles & Space Batteries
Parker Chomerics (Parker Hannifin Ltd)
Piddington Engineering Ltd
Precision Aircraft Ltd
Proof of concept work (POC machining) Ltd
Robert Stuart PLC
Ronaldsway Aircraft Company Ltd
Saint Engineering Ltd
Superform Aluminium Ltd
Techtest (HR Smith) Ltd
Technology International (Europe) Ltd
Telelogic UK Ltd
W G Jones Engineering Ltd
Widdon Engineering Ltd
Wilsons Plc