Defense

July 26, 2012

DOD approves plan to lift F-22 restrictions

Tags:
by MSgt. Amaani Lyle
Air Force News

An F-22 Raptor from the Hawaii Air National Guard’s 199th Fighter Squadron returns to a training mission after refueling March 27, 2012, over the Pacific Ocean near the Hawaiian Islands. During the training, U.S. Air Force Academy cadets received a familiarization flight to get a better understanding of the Air Force’s global reach capabilities.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz said here July 24 the Air Force has data indicating the cause of the F-22 Raptor’s hypoxia-related incidents stem from the quantity, not the quality, of oxygen available in the cockpit.

“Given tests in the altitude chamber and the centrifuge, we have confirmed that there is a combination of hardware-related items that have created breathing problems for our pilots,” Schwartz said.

A valve in the upper pressure garment worn by pilots during high-altitude missions was causing the vest to inflate, and remain inflated, resulting in increased pressure on the pilot’s chest, he said.

The Air Force will replace the upper pressure garment vest valve. Additional measures to improve airflow include the April decision to remove the C2A1 filter, which was previously used to test for contaminants in the cockpit, as well as future efforts to explore improving the oxygen delivery hose and its physical connections, he said.

“We have a deliberate plan underway now both to modify that equipment, to test that equipment under the most demanding conditions, and that will begin to hit the field in September,” Schwartz said. “Given the limitations the Secretary of Defense has imposed until those improvements are fielded, we are confident that we have managed the risk associated with continuing operations in the F-22.”

Schwartz said the Air Force will continue updating Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to demonstrate the results of the improvements.

In May, Panetta directed the Air Force to limit all F-22 flights to remain near potential landing locations to enable quick recovery and landing should a pilot encounter oxygen deprivation. The secretary also directed the Air Force to expedite the installation of an automatic backup oxygen system in all of the planes, and he asked for monthly progress reports as the service continued the search for the root cause of the problem.

These actions were in addition to steps the Air Force already was taking to determine the root causes of the hypoxia-like symptoms that some pilots experienced.

An F-22 Raptor with the 1st Fighter Wing from Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va. pulls into position to accept fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker with the 756th Air Refueling Squadron, Joint Base Andrews Naval Air Facility, Md., May 10, 2012. The first Raptor assigned to the Wing arrived Jan. 7, 2005.

Following an Air Force briefing last week, Panetta decided to gradually lift restrictions on the aircraft. He authorized the Air Force to deploy a squadron-sized element of F-22s to Kadena Air Base, Japan, via the Northern Pacific transit route, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little briefed reporters earlier in the day.

Schwartz said the Air Force will take proactive steps for the deployment, to include placing an F-22 pilot on the tanker accompanying the fighters so that a Raptor expert can offer advice as needed in the immediate vicinity of the deploying aircraft.

“The tanker will have sufficient fuel aboard should the formation need to descend to a lower altitude to make its destination,” Schwartz said. “These are the kinds of prudent aviator risk management actions that we’re taking for this deployment.”

Initial long-duration flight routes will be designed to pass near airfields. The Air Force also has imposed an altitude restriction on the aircraft so pilots will not need to wear the pressure vest.

Training sorties will remain near runways until completion of the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board-recommended corrective actions expected by the end of the summer.

The Air Force will notify Panetta when fixes are in place for the pressure vest and related cockpit life support components. Pending successful completion of associated testing and NASA’s independent analysis, Panetta will consider returning the F-22 fleet to normal operations.

The F-22 aircraft have flown more than 7,000 sorties, accumulating more than 9,000 hours since the last unexplained incident involving hypoxia-like symptoms occurred March 8.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
navy-china

USS Fort Worth conducts CUES with Chinese Navy

The littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) practiced the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES) with the People’s Liberation Army-Navy Jiangkai II frigate Hengshui (FFG 572) Feb. 23 enhancing the professional ma...
 
 

AEGIS tracks, simulates engagement of three short-range ballistic missiles

The Missile Defense Agency and sailors aboard the guided-missile destroyers USS Carney (DDG 64), USS Gonzalez (DDG 66), and USS Barry (DDG 52) successfully completed a flight test involving the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense weapon system. At approximately 2:30 a.m., EST, Feb. 26, three short-range ballistic missile targets were launched near simultaneously from NASA’s Wallops...
 
 

DOD seeks novel ideas to shape its technological future

The Defense Department is seeking novel ideas to shape its future, and officials are looking to industry, small business, academia, start-ups, the public – anyone, really – to boost its ability to prevail against adversaries whose access to technology grows daily. The program, called the Long-Range Research and Development Plan, or LRRDP, began with an...
 

 

Air Force places 18 A-10 aircraft into ‘Backup Status’

The Air Force, with congressional authorization, will convert 18 primary combat-coded A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft from active units and place them into Backup-Aircraft Inventory status with the possibility to convert another 18 at a later date in fiscal year 2015. The secretary of Defense has authorized the Air Force to place up to a total...
 
 

AFRL shape-changing materials make form a function

Air Force Research Laboratory research is shaping the future of aerospace. Through research into soft materials called liquid crystal elastomers, AFRL scientists have developed a method to locally program the mechanical response in polymer sheets without the use of actuators and traditional mechanical parts. This research (sponsored by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research)...
 
 
Sensor Concepts Inc. photograph

Air Force Research Labís handheld imaging tool expands aircraft inspection capability

Sensor Concepts Inc. photograph An operator demonstrates the portability of the handheld imaging tool. The technology provides maintainers the ability to evaluate aircraft in the field to ensure mission-readiness. When pilots c...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>