U.S. Military Fears Electromagnetic Radiation in Cockpits Severely Harms Pilots’ Health

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) recently published a proposal titled, “Impact of Cockpit Electro-Magnetics on Aircrew Neurology,” calling for research into how electromagnetic radiation emitted from high-powered electronics affects pilots’ neurological and cognitive function. According to Forbes’ reporting, the radiation “could be making pilots so disoriented that they crash their planes.”

The following information was published in DAPRA’s research proposal:

“Current cockpits are flooded with radio frequency (RF) noise from on-board emissions, communication links, and navigation electronics, including strong electromagnetic (EM) fields from audio headsets and helmet tracking technologies. Pilots often report minor cognitive performance challenges during flight, and from 1993 to 2013, spatial disorientation in US Air Force pilots accounted for 72 Class A mishaps, 101 deaths, and 65 aircraft lost. It has been hypothesized that the cockpit RF and EM fields may influence cognitive performance including task saturation, misprioritization, complacency and Spatial Disorientation. However, EM fields and radio waves in cockpits are not currently monitored, little effort has been made to shield pilots from these fields, and the potential impacts of these fields on cognition have not been assessed.”

Read the full news article from Forbes here. Read DARPA’S full research proposal (N203-109) here.


One thought on “U.S. Military Fears Electromagnetic Radiation in Cockpits Severely Harms Pilots’ Health

  1. There have long been fears that pilots are being exposed to harmful environmental hazards. Some are natural radiation effects, such as ultraviolet rays from the sun piercing cockpit windows. Some U.S. fighter pilots also believe that radiation from the powerful radars on their aircraft have also contributed to a surge in cancer cases among their ranks. But what’s significant about DARPA’s new project is that the suspected culprit isn’t just high-powered radar anymore. Pilots of cutting-edge aircraft, such as the F-35 stealth fighter, are encased in an electronic cocoon of powerful sensors, audiovisual displays, and special high-tech helmets. And it’s not just U.S. pilots: European, Russia, Israeli and other pilots of advanced aircraft also use this technology – and faced potential exposure to hazardous radiation.


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