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LPU-21/P and LPU-23/P Life Preservers
LPU-23B/P The "horse-collar" life preservers, called this because of the bladders that go around the neck looking like a yoke, began with the LPA-1 in the 1970s.

In the 1980s - 1990s, there were 2 main naval life preservers: the automatic LPU-23 and the manual LPU-21 [the current issue LP is the auto LPU-36 and manual LPU-34]. As you can see from the photos, the LPU-23 (left column) and the LPU-21 (right column) look almost identical. Really, the only difference that can be noticed on the outside are yellow markings stating "ejection seat aircraft only" on the LPU-23. The LPU-23 is for use on ejection seat aircraft and is equipped with "automatic inflators" that are activated by salt water. This is in case the pilot is unconscious or unable to inflate the life preserver.

The LPU-21 is for use on non-ejection seat aircraft, like helicopters or Hawkeye aircraft.  In the event of a helicopter going down in water, the pilot will flip it on the side so as to stop the rotor blades, and this usually results in the helicopter partially sinking upside down and the crewmember having to swim out (this is where the HEEDs bottle is used too). Someone trying to swim out of a submerged helicopter would not like to have an inflated life preserver- this is why the LPU-21 is used without automatic inflators. Once clear of the aircraft, the crewmember would pull on the beaded handles at the front to inflate the bladders. The LPU life preserver is made to be used with the SV-2B survival vest as shown in the photos. If you notice in the middle photo at the right, the LPU-21 is on a vest that has a heavy belt & buckle around the top of the vest- this is an extraction belt used in aircraft that don't require a torso harness. The extraction belt would be used to lift a downed crewman with a helo winch, whereas the ejection seat torso harness is equipped with a snap ring for extraction.


To the left is a photo of the back of the LPU-23A/P and shows how the upper and lower bladder assemblies are connected. The lower left photo shows the FLU-8 Automatic inflators by Conex; these are what makes the LPU-23 an automatic opening LPU. The photo above shows the spec tag on the inside of the upper bladder casing. The photo below shows a close up of the outside difference of the LPU-23 and LPU-21: the auto inflation warning label.

You may also notice 2 pouches attached to the LPU-23 life preserver- these are a dye marker pouch and a flare pouch. 

The dye marker stains the water bright yellow and the flare is the day/night Mk-13 flare. It has smoke on 1 side & flare on the other.

View our current inventory of life preservers available for sale here.

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