Does Cockpit RF Disorient Pilots?

Military aircraft - Post cold war aircraft, including for example B-2, Gripen, F-18E/F Super Hornet, Rafale, and Typhoon.
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energo

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Unread post10 Oct 2020, 00:31

https://microwavenews.com/short-takes-archive/iceman

Does Cockpit RF Disorient Pilots?
DARPA’s New ICEMAN Project Seeks Answers
September 15, 2020

Spatial disorientation among U.S. Air Force pilots has been linked to 72 severe accidents between 1993 and 2013, resulting in 101 deaths and the loss of 65 aircraft. Now DARPA, the defense department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency, wants to know whether RF radiation in the cockpit of combat aircraft may be at least partly to blame.

Under the new initiative, with the acronym ICEMAN, DARPA is seeking a contractor to measure the electromagnetic fields inside cockpits, especially signals between 9 kHz and 1 GHz and then determine whether they might affect the performance of pilots. ICEMAN is short for Impact of Cockpit Electro-Magnetics on Aircrew Neurology.

In its request for proposals, DARPA states that, “Current cockpits are flooded with RF noise from on-board emissions, communication links, and navigation electronics, including strong EM fields from audio headsets and helmet tracking technologies.” The agency notes that current tactical audio headsets project magnetic fields that are up to 10 times the strength of the Earth’s magnetic field —that is, approximately 5 G (0.5 mT). DARPA continues:

“Recent DARPA-funded research has demonstrated that human brains sense magnetic fields, like those used by animals for navigation, and that this process is ‘jammed’ (i.e., disrupted) by radio waves (RF), impacting brainwaves and behavior. Furthermore, recent findings were the first to show that even weak RF fields and ‘Earth strength’ magnetic fields have measurable, reproducible effects on human brainwaves and unconscious behavior in a controlled environment.”

The “recent research” refers to work carried out under DARPA’s RadioBio program, announced in 2017. One of its objectives was to see whether living cells can communicate with neighboring cells using EM signals and, if so, what the cells are telling each other and how they do it.

Joe Kirschvink at Caltech, a RadioBio contractor, has reported that human brain waves respond to changes in magnetic fields on the order of the Earth's field.

According to DARPA, the objectives of the ICEMAN project are:

1) Measure and manipulate the ambient EM field and RF noise in a typical cockpit;

2) Measure potential effects of EM stimuli on brain activity, physiology, behavioral responses and physiological sensing systems;

3) Demonstrate potential strategies to mitigate negative effects on aircrew neurology and sensory function.

The deadline for proposals is October 5.

More on the how DoD defines major aircraft accidents, here.

Iceman was the nom de guerre of a fighter pilot played by Val Kilmer in the movie Top Gun.


More on the topic:

https://www.darpa.mil/news-events/2017-02-07

RadioBio: What role does electromagnetic signaling have in biological systems?
New program to explore whether electromagnetic waves are purposefully transmitted and received within or between cells and, if so, to leverage those insights not just for biosystems but also for communicating in cluttered electromagnetic environments
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Unread post10 Oct 2020, 06:14

"...wants to know whether RF radiation in the cockpit of combat aircraft may be at least partly to blame...." Is the key phrase in this story. Probably a lot more 'things' are to blame wholly for SD. Is this April Fools Day FUD? Reading stories like this makes me WD WHOLLY DISORIENTED. This'll teach pilots to not microwave their snakes/snacks in the cockpit! :roll:

Next pilots will wear aloominium foil under their bone domes and wear their sunglasses at night and eat more carrots. :devil:
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Unread post11 Oct 2020, 18:19

That was my first inclination too. :mrgreen:

DARPAs interest appears to be the magnetic fields rather than microwaves themselves. In particular those produced by modern "audio headsets and helmet tracking technologies."

That the human brain and nervous system reacts to magnetic fields is used in a wide range of treatments using for instance Peripheral magnetic stimulation and Transcranial magnetic stimulation, and there are some known adverse effects:

Although TMS is generally regarded as safe, risks are increased for therapeutic rTMS compared to single or paired diagnostic TMS. Adverse effects generally increase with higher frequency stimulation.

The greatest immediate risk from TMS is fainting, though this is uncommon. Seizures have been reported, but are rare. Other adverse effects include short term discomfort, pain, brief episodes of hypomania, cognitive change, hearing loss, impaired working memory, and the induction of electrical currents in implanted devices such as cardiac pacemakers.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transcran ... se_effects

Unlike the electrical stimulation, the magnetic stimulation does not need a traverse of electric current through electrodes, skin, and tissue interface. The magnetic field acts as the vehicle to induce ions to flow and does not stimulate the nervous tissue itself. However, once the ion flow is created, the mechanism of both electrical and magnetic stimulation at the neural level is the same which are axon depolarization and the initiation of the action potential.[4] Because of the higher stimulation threshold of the cell bodies, peripheral magnetic stimulation will stimulate axons rather than cell bodies.


https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK526087/
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Unread post11 Oct 2020, 21:30

Yes I reckon these issues are worth investigating however most likely as causes of SPATIAL DISORIENTATION they have a negligible/very small effect, otherwise in modern times there would be many more military/civilian SD accidents of note.

ANYTHING which could potentially affect aircrew is worth investigating. IIRC aircrew at high altitude are exposed to increased solar radiation for prolonged periods - in the case of civilian airlines which can be astonishingly high again IIRC.
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Unread post12 Oct 2020, 03:42

This "study" is really reaching, IMHO. About as much as the burned out 1960's hippies I grew up around, who claimed microwave ovens were deadly. Or more recently, the 5G network. I'm fairly confident that none of my errors as a pilot can be attributed to the various RF related avionics I sit on. Now have they possibly given people cancer? That is a leaf more worth turning over.
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Unread post12 Oct 2020, 05:37

Not trying to be a troll. I do know that strong enough magnetic fields at the right frequencies can cause issues.

I worked on a project that used magnetic fields to detect marked articles over a fairly large area. It was used to stop shoplifters and the like. The lab project leader told me that along the way they had a unit that produced outputs at about the same frequencies as the signal from your eyes to your brain. They noticed that if they put their heads too close to the coil, they would lose their vision until they moved away. At first they said 'cool' - then --wait a minute. Moved away from that system.

AC magnetic fields can impact human brains in some instances apparently. Germany has ( or at least had when I was still working) standards for magnetic field radiation.

Not sure if the fields in these aircraft are causing anything. Just saying that it's not impossible.

hj
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Unread post13 Oct 2020, 00:46

35_aoa wrote:This "study" is really reaching, IMHO. About as much as the burned out 1960's hippies I grew up around, who claimed microwave ovens were deadly. Or more recently, the 5G network. I'm fairly confident that none of my errors as a pilot can be attributed to the various RF related avionics I sit on. Now have they possibly given people cancer? That is a leaf more worth turning over.

Aren't WAVEovens deadly if youse put your head in dem and flick de switch? MAX HEADroom would know. I have wondered about S-2 Tracker aircrew of old & their cancer-related deaths/illnesses (don't know about other aircraft - no info here).
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