The Indian Air Force (IAF) has tested for its pilots 'Go Pills', which will enhance their alertness and keep them awake in engagements stretching to even 36 hours.
Director general medical services (Air), Air Marshal AK Behl, told mediapersons in Chandigarh on Monday that even after 36 hours of activity, the drug would keep the pilots in a state of alertness and agility as if just 12 hours into work.
Behl was in Chandigarh for a press conference on colours presentation to Air Force Central Medical Establishment (AFCME) and 3 Base Repair Depot (BRD), to take place on March 15.
He clarified that the trials were meant for only Air Force pilots and not civilians.
"Such drugs have already been in use in the US Air Force. Though we did not fly for 36 hours, but the tests were meant to meet any kind of eventuality," he said. "We are integrating fifth generation technology (in case of aircraft), but the humans are still into the first generation," Behl pointed out.
"For answering nature's calls, we have tested pilots with diapers," he said.
"We have tested pilots for Modafinil drug. It is an alertness-enhancing compound. It attenuates the effect of fatigue on the pilot's mood and performance. We are likely to start administering it," Behl added.
On the new challenges, he said, "We have set up a department for treating lifestyle disorder diseases in pilots at the AFCME. They were not able to keep themselves fit for longer periods of time."
'Go Pills' are used to remain awake for longer periods of time. They are stimulants that keep fatigue at bay and enhance alertness. Amphetamine and its derivatives, besides Modafinil, fall in the category of 'Go Pills'.
Such drugs are called 'Go Pills' as they keep the pilots and soldiers going on even after their minds and bodies have tired. They were used by the US forces in both the Gulf Wars and in Afghanistan.
They are also helpful in fighting depression.
The side-effects of Modafinil are nervousness, headache, dry mouth, nausea and constipation. But it is better than amphetamines that are addictive and in case of overdose can lead to psychosis, hypertension and chest pain.