IAF fighter pilots pop pills to optimize performance

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Indian Air Force has now authorised its supersonic fighter pilots to pop pills which reduce fatigue and increase cognitive abilities during hectic flight exercises.

Popularly known as Go/No-pills among the Air Force fliers, are being used by air warriors who indulge in long range sorties and other exercises which may cause sleep deprivation and fatigue.

The ‘Go Pill’ boost alertness levels and keep up the adrenaline rush in tact in fighter pilots during air combat exercises which may last longer during long range sorties. Meanwhile, ‘No-Go Pill’ is used to relax pilots who undergo intense air engagement missions. Essentially,  ‘No-Go Pill’ will ensure sleep to a pilot before his next mission.

Modafinil which is known to be a ‘wakefulness promoting agent’ is the ‘Go Pill’. Zolpidem, a sedative which is commonly used to treat insomnia is the ‘No-Go Pill’. According to reports quoting Air Force officials, the two categories of pills for ‘optimizing performance’ are administered under strict supervision and clinical trials.

“The field trials and studies were conducted by our doctors to validate pharmacological strategies for sleep and alertness management for aircrews in extended operations. It was established both Modafinil and Zolpidem would help to optimize our personnel’s performance in a sustained operational scenario,” Times of India quoted a IAF officer.

Amphetamines were used during World War II and Vietnam war. Reportedly, even US Air Force approves the use of ‘Go pills’ like Dexedrines and Provigil (another compound of Modafinil) among fighter pilots during strategic military engagements and exercises.

While there is only limited information on how Modafinil works to enhance cognitive powers, certain studies assert that it provide ‘sustained attention, cognitive control, and working memory” to users.

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