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I've noticed that a lot of military jets often have an arrow decal with the wording "RESCUE" pointing to a rectangle of some sort. I tried looking around for information about it but I could not find anything. What is the purpose of that rectangle the arrow points to?

The other decals seem to be much clearer: e.g. the red triangles are usually ejection seat warning labels and jet intake danger labels.

My own guess is that it is a button/switch device to trigger explosive bolts on the canopy or another mechanism. If so, what does it look like and how does it function? A close-up and a detailed example would be useful.

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    $\begingroup$ That's where the onboard hamster lives. In the event of an emergency, you need to pop out the box and rescue him. Well, at least that's what my kids told me. $\endgroup$ – RockPaperLizard Jul 27 '16 at 0:15
  • $\begingroup$ Pictures embedded in this question are showing as broken. (At least to me, behind a corporate firewall) $\endgroup$ – Rayanth Jul 27 '16 at 4:36
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It's a small door leading to a compartment which contains a handle on a reeled lanyard. When fully extended, the handle and lanyard activate the pyrotechnic charges which jettison the canopy or other enclosure over the flight crew stations, facilitating rescue.

The arrow may also just point towards the external canopy latch in order to expedite cockpit access and rescue.

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  • $\begingroup$ I assume the 9 feet requirement is to ensure the rescuers are a safe distance away when the canopy is jettisoned? $\endgroup$ – Jeffrey Bosboom Jul 27 '16 at 2:11
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    $\begingroup$ Yes, but it's also a handy reference of how much you'll have to pull out. If you're a rescuer in a hurry and pull the cord, and it snags at 2 feet, then you'll know it wasn't enough and either to pull harder or start alternate rescue methods. $\endgroup$ – Rayanth Jul 27 '16 at 4:35
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    $\begingroup$ See a description of the mechanism inside. I was not able to find an image free of rights and as good as this stock one. Best pick. $\endgroup$ – mins Jul 27 '16 at 8:23
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According to NATOPS U.S. NAVY AIRCRAFT EMERGENCY RESCUE INFORMATION MANUAL NAVAIR 00‐80R‐14-1, the actual concern here is to disarm the ejection seats so that the rescue crew can safely extract the aircrew. While I would imagine that different manufacturers have different ways to build it into their aircraft, I also assume that like all emergency mechanisms, it's operation should be simple and obvious once you open the panel, and most likely has a clear and explicit instruction to pull a handle or flip a switch, or something similar. Safe-ing the seats will allow the rescue crew to then work in the cockpit area without the danger of a rescuer or injured aircrew activating the ejection mechanisms and making everyone's day even worse.

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    $\begingroup$ I would expect this is correct. When airbags first came out, some fire departments that hadn't had training on them yet encountered some nasty surprises. I saw a training video once of a paramedic being ejected from a vehicle by an airbag when the FD accidentally triggered it while cutting open the dashboard to free the patient. If you imagine a vehicle after a crash as a crumpled pile of metal that has to be cut apart to free the occupants, you can see why using hydraulic tools to cut through twisted bits of entanglement could easily set off lurking pyrotechnics. $\endgroup$ – Carey Gregory Jul 26 '16 at 21:23
  • $\begingroup$ A pretty sensible approach to safety: label everything in English and then deploy to Irak, Afghanistan, ... :-) $\endgroup$ – Diego Sánchez Jul 28 '16 at 7:02

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