Pentagon Places New Restrictions on F-22 Raptor Fleet

Discussion in 'Americas' started by Singh, May 18, 2012.

  1. Singh

    Singh Phat Cat Administrator

    Feb 23, 2009
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    No long flights for F-22's in Alaska

    The Lockheed F-22 Raptor is the preeminent air superiority fighter in the United States arsenal. The aircraft has experienced significant issues that have caused hypoxia-like symptoms in some pilots who fly the aircraft. The hypoxia-like symptoms led to the aircraft being placed on stand down for several months while the cause of the problem (most pointed to the aircraft's onboard oxygen generation system) was investigated.

    Defense Secretary Leon Panetta this week ordered the Air Force to stop flying the F-22 in regions where it would be difficult for pilots to land the aircraft if they experience hypoxia-like symptoms. The no-fly order covers areas such as Alaska where a number of F-22 fighters are stationed.

    “Alaska is one example of a region where it would be difficult in some cases to land the plane due to long distances from runways,” Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said in an email to Air Force Times.

    Airmen stationed in Alaska have experienced one fatal F-22 crash in the past where oxygen deprivation was suspected as a contributor to the accident. Ultimately, that fatal crash was blamed on pilot error.

    This week, the House Appropriations Defense subcommittee also proposed an additional $50 million to add a backup oxygen system to F-22s. The appearance of pilots of the F-22 on the news program 60 Minutes could have spurred the Pentagon to act on pilot concerns. The pilots appearing on the news program refused to fly the F-22 citing safety concerns.

    Air Force leaders also recently received a letter from Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., and Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill, requesting an anonymous survey be performed of F-22 pilots, maintainers, and flight surgeons. The letter wants the survey to "definitively document the scope and frequency of these hypoxia-like incidents."

    Reuters reports that with flight distances of the F-22 limited, other fighter aircraft will be used to flying long-distance patrols from air bases in Alaska.

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