Tactical Life Support System
Message 3183, Jun 24, 2001
Speaking of earplugs, my specimen of the TLSS system suit (see attached, although the one shown is being worn by WIZZO, whose specimen it is), came with a set of earplugs in the RIGHT side cigarette pocket (yep, RIGHT side)--no earwax on 'em, though. If anyone is interested, I know where there are at least three more examples of the TLSS suit (but no more helmets)--however, they are EXPEN$IVE. This is the system, you will recall, that was the inspiration for the subsequent Combat Edge system. The TLSS suit incorporates a lower body G-suit and an upper body counterpressure vest--integrated into one suit. It was deemed too expensive to produce in large numbers and so the CSU-17/P Counterpressure vest with conventional speed jeans and CE mask/helmet developed. For Venz: I will provide an article on the TLSS program of the mid 80s for you--just haven't gotten it together, yet. There were less than 55 TLSS system helmet & mask sets produced and probably about 100 of the suit system components, thus making these items EXTREMELY rare and historically of significant interest. The images attached show
1) the CSU-17/P Counterpressure Vest that evolved from the TLSS suit; and
2) a photo of the small hoard of remaining examples of TLSS suits that are still in existance.
Message 2464, May 23, 2001
Hello Venz and others, This is indeed exciting, as this helmet and mask are none-other than a (truly rare) specimen of the extremely important and VERY collectible TLSS system set that I have occasionally written about and made reference to on this forum. The TLSS system was flight-tested at Edwards in the mid to late 1980s and less than 55 of them were made. The system combined advanced concepts for complete high altitude flight and NBC defense protection, which presented considerably complex and advanced challenges to the flight design teams at Gentex and Boeing (the major contractors involved). After extensive testing, the system was found to be far too expensive for wide-spread acquisition by USAF and the subsequent Combat Edge system developed from it (as a far less costly system, but one that didn't provide NBC protection).
The even more advanced and refined ATLSS (Advanced Tactical Life Support System) is a direct result of the early TLSS project, but since the ATLSS was rejected by USAF, the only place that the ATLSS system is flown is in a few NATO nations.
The specimen shown on the eBay auction site is missing a few key items (namely the PLZT goggles, the NBC protection items and a few hoses; see the open port on right rear of the helmet? A hose connects there that joins the 02 circulation system) and appears to be set up for regular high altitude flight (fighter) operations use. The system was tested alongside the YF-23 aircraft (perhaps I should say concurrently) but these two projects were not directly related
This is one of the most important USAF life support projects of the last 20 years, believe me, and these helmets are extremely rare (less than 55 made, as I said). $650 is literally giving this set away, given its real value. Obviously 99% of the people viewing that item on eBay do NOT know what they are looking at--probably even the seller doesn't fully realise what he has there.
I am attaching a few images and various items related to the TLSS. Anyone interested in more detailed information, etc., may contact me privately. Thanks for bringing the extremely rare item to the forum's attention, Venz. Note that all of the images except one show the TLSS system in standard fighter operations mode (which is the mode being offered on eBay); the image showing the black PLZT goggles on a TLSS depicts the full NBC protective TLSS configuration.
One last set of images (3) shows an early spin-off of the TLSS system that was a missing link between the TLSS project system helmets and the later HGU-55/P and MBU-20/P Combat Edge System. Note in that image that the MBU-20/P mask is permanently joined to the helmet and is not removable, as in the final CE system. Also, the mask is an MBU-20/P prototype which looks as if it was taken directly from a TLSS and fitted to an HGU-55/P. This last "missing link" is a most remarkable and unusual specimen, as it bridges the gap from TLSS to final tactical CE. (Thanks to forum member Remaut Martine for these last three images).