The Indian Air Force with its dedicated pilots is often named among some of the best aerial combat forces of the world. But there’s a hidden secret that is helping keep our Top Guns focused while on missions. A dose of what is commonly known as: Go/ No-Go pills.
A major concern for air force pilots across the globe has been the pressure they have to deal with in the cockpit and the stress that comes from round the clock combat exercises, ultimately resulting in fatigue which can take a toll on a pilot’s skills.
In military aviation, the ‘Go pill’ is known to shoot up adrenaline levels and raise alertness while also bringing down fatigue.
But a sudden rise in adrenaline also means that the pilot needs to be able to handle the rush, and that’s where Zolpidem or ‘No-Go pill’ comes in. As the name suggests it has the exact opposite effect, sedating a person and helping him/her relax.
Is it effective?
Having been the in the works for past four years, the pills have been used to optimum effect in the “Livewire” exercise, which was designed to test both offensive and defensive capabilities for a two-front war. Everyone from helicopter pilots to the top brass have tried out these pills in order to push the envelope, reports The Times Of India.
For armies across the world, fatigue has been a major hindrance for centuries, and the use of certain “authorised” drugs in aerial combat has been on the rise among prominent forces from the World War II to the Iraq war, says this report. As pilots are increasingly taking part in missions that can take place through the night, fatigue has been known to be a factor behind fatal crashes in the past.
The flip side.
While the drugs have been known to help pilots overcome fatigue in combat, it has been accused of impairing judgement.
The practice came under fire over a decade back, when two American pilots bombed Canadian troops during an F-16 flight over Afghanistan. Both said that the go pills they took before the mission impaired their judgement, according to a report by The New York Times.
But a senior officer of the IAF dismissed the fear of side effects saying that pills were allowed for missions under strict supervision, and “side-effects of both the pills during trials were negligible and did not appear to be a cause for concern.”
All images sourced from Reuters