Strapped in for ejection seat test – at 600 mph

Image: High-speed shots of ejection seat igniting and parachute deploying
BAE Systems' F-35 combat jet ejection seat tested on a 600-mph rocket car in early April. Each second, instruments recorded 900,000 different measurements, and the seat passed its test with flying colors.BAE Systems

BAE Systems tested a new ejection seat that will be deployed on over 3,000 F-35 Lightning II combat jets around the world, using a 600-mph rocket car, a battery of sensors and one lucky mannequin. They captured it on video — but don't blink or you'll miss it.

The test took place in early April. Though the entire emergency escape operation, from handle pull to parachute deployment, typically takes only three seconds, the team took up to 900,000 measurements per second.

"I am pleased to say the systems performed really well," BAE Systems' test manager Rick Whittaker said in a statement.

You'll see in the top photo and in the video that the ejection seat was actually loaded in a full-scale front-end of the actual F-35 jet where it will soon be installed. The back-end, however, is a rocket engine, which propelled the whole test unit down a track at speeds exceeding 600 mph.

Fortunately for us, they shared their test video on the Internet.