WASHINGTON — The military deputy in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition discussed tactical aviation programs during congressional testimony here May 8.
During a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Lt. Gen. Janet Wolfenbarger discussed what steps the Air Force has taken in regard to F-22 Raptor pilot safety.
â€œWe have initiated 17 life support enhancements to the F-22 as direct risk mitigation steps,â€ said Wolfenbarger. â€œMany of these enhancements are already fielded, including a modification to the emergency oxygen activation handle and an aircrew blood oxygen sensor.â€
Responding to questions regarding what percentage of hypoxia-like incidents there have been, Wolfenbarger answered that pilots have reported occurrences in less than 0.1 percent of all F-22 sorties flown. She emphasized Air Force leadersâ€™ commitment to eliminating the incidents altogether.
â€œOur pilotsâ€™ safety is of utmost concern and a top priority,â€ she said. â€œWe have all of the best minds on this, from across the (Department of Defense), NASA, academia and industry experts.â€
When asked by Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts about whether she felt the F-22 was safe to fly, Wolfenbarger said, â€œYes sir, we feel it is.â€
In addition to safety of flight, the general emphasized the need for the aircraft.
â€œFifth-generation fighters such as the F-22 and F-35 (Joint Strike Fighter) are key elements of our nationâ€™s defense and deterrent capability,â€ she said.